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I wouldn’t support filling a Supreme Court vacancy before the election

Here’s your second chance to read my take on the thorny politics of a Supreme Court vacancy before the election — or after the election, as there’s a chance a seat will open during the lame-duck session, God help us. Chuck Grassley said two weeks ago that if he were still the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he isn’t, he wouldn’t hold a hearing on a new nominee this close to Election Day. He’d follow the same standard as in 2016 after Antonin Scalia’s seat was vacated, allowing the voters to decide which party should fill that seat.

But that’s not the standard, you say. The standard is that voters should decide who fills the vacancy only if the White House and the Senate are controlled by different parties. When they’re controlled by the same party, the vacancy can be filled immediately. That’s the Mitch McConnell standard.

But it’s not the Chuck Grassley standard, it seems. And, importantly, not the Lisa Murkowski standard either.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) says that confirming a Trump nominee to the high court in the middle of an election year or during the lame-duck session in November and December would create a “double standard” after what happened in 2016.

“When Republicans held off Merrick Garland it was because nine months prior to the election was too close, we needed to let people decide. And I agreed to do that. If we now say that months prior to the election is OK when nine months was not, that is a double standard and I don’t believe we should do it,” she said. “So I would not support it.”

The current chairman of the Judiciary Committee is Lindsey Graham. Surely the president’s golf buddy will help ram through a nomination for him if a seat opens up before November, no? Graham was noncommittal when asked about it recently:

Graham said he’d be “willing” to fill a vacancy, but cautioned: “I’d like to get input from my colleagues.”

“I don’t know. We’ll see,” he added. “I hope everybody stays healthy on the Supreme Court and we don’t have to worry about it.”

It would take four Republican no votes to block confirmation of a new nominee. Murkowski sounds like a hard no. Grassley is a soft no: Although he dislikes the idea of confirming someone this close to Election Day, no one thinks he’d be the 51st vote for Democrats to block Trump. Mitt Romney and Susan Collins were also asked by The Hill if they’d confirm a nominee this year and both ducked the question. Romney is also very likely to vote no, I think, as it’s clearer by the day that he intends to go his own way in the Senate and let the electoral chips fall where they may.

Collins would be in a terrible bind because she’s trailing in the latest poll and would be destined to alienate either her base or certain voters in the center no matter what she did about a new vacancy. Because she already went to the mat for Kavanaugh two years ago, I think she’d try to “balance” that vote by voting no this time, and maybe try to sell it to Maine Republicans as a reason to reelect her. “This vacancy makes it more important than ever to have a Republican president and a Republican Senate next year.” They’d be mad, but the prospect of getting to fill that seat would lead most to hold their noses and vote Collins anyway.

That’s three likely Republican no votes, a 50/50 tie on a new nominee. Is there a fourth anywhere in the Senate? Would Cory Gardner dare flake out on Trump in his bluish state of Colorado, knowing how doing so might conceivably help him by giving his candidacy more of an independent tinge? McConnell might even encourage it: “In recent weeks, the Senate majority leader has become so concerned over Republicans losing control of the Senate that he has signaled to vulnerable GOP senators in tough races that they could distance themselves from the President if they feel it is necessary, according to multiple senior Republicans including a source close to McConnell.”

Although *blocking* the Senate from confirming a conservative to the Supreme Court goes against every last strand of McConnell’s political DNA.

Democrats are going to try to make it easy for Grassley or Gardner or whoever else to say no by threatening consequences if they say yes. The point of ramming through a nomination before the election would be to make SCOTUS dependably conservative for a generation or more, but what if lefty outrage over it spurs Dems to undo that generational control … next year?

Kaine, the party’s last vice presidential nominee and a lawmaker with a reputation as an institutionalist, said confirming a nominee of President Donald Trump this year could compel Democrats to consider adding seats to the high court.

“If they show that they’re unwilling to respect precedent, rules and history, then they can’t feign surprise when others talk about using a statutory option that we have that’s fully constitutional in our availability,” he said. “I don’t want to do that. But if they act in such a way, they may push it to an inevitability. So they need to be careful about that.”

They’re going to pack the Court anyway, we might respond. Maybe, but Biden opposed the idea during the primaries. Even in a best-case scenario for Democrats on election night, they’re likely to have only a narrow majority in the Senate next year. They probably won’t have 50 votes for Court-packing once the red-state Dems like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have their say. Some lefties pounding the table about packing the Court are also destined to be sated once Ginsburg and/or Breyer steps down in short order and Biden starts installing his own young nominees on the bench. I think it’s unlikely that Democrats will go thermonuclear by trying to add seats to SCOTUS, but if anything’s going to give them the political juice to try, it’s the GOP trying to squeeze through a new confirmation less than 100 days before the election.

In fact, even if a seat opened very soon, it’s reasonable to think that confirming the new justice would necessarily happen no earlier than mid-September and possibly even *October* in light of the timetable for previous nominees. Depending upon how the polling looked for a move like that, even McConnell might get cold feet about it. Imagine if it stood at, say, 35/65 while early voting was ongoing.

As for a lame-duck confirmation, I think the chances are near-zero. “If the election is over and the president is still the president, then I think it’s fair game. If there was a change in administration, obviously you got a lame-duck administration. That’s perhaps is a different scenario,” said … John Thune, the number two Republican in the Senate, to The Hill. If leadership’s not ready to cowboy up on that scenario, the backbenchers won’t do it either. That really would put Court-packing on the table as a retaliatory move by Dems, I think, more so than a pre-election confirmation in the fall would.

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Kansas Senate Race: Democrats Spend $5.3 Million to Boost GOP Senate Candidate

Supporters of President Donald Trump cheer during his speech at a campaign rally in Topeka, Kan., October 6, 2018. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Can Republicans really blow a Senate race in Kansas, a state that hasn’t sent a Democrat to the upper chamber since 1932?

Top Republicans and Democrats in Washington say the answer is yes. And their actions reveal they really mean it.

A shadowy Democratic super PAC has spent $5.3 million attacking GOP candidate Roger Marshall in order to boost Republican Kris Kobach ahead of Tuesday’s Kansas Senate primary. A super PAC aligned with Mitch McConnell has spent at least $1.2 million doing the opposite.

Democrats want Kobach to be the nominee because he lost the governor’s race to Democrat Laura Kelly 48 percent to 43 percent in 2018, when other Republicans still coasted to victory statewide (the state’s Republican attorney general, for example, won re-election by 19 points on the same ballot).

Although Donald Trump carried Kansas 56 percent to 36 percent against Hillary Clinton in 2016, his margin of victory could be much smaller in 2020. Internal Senate GOP polling “showed Mr. Trump leading only narrowly in the state and found that nearly 30 percent of Republican primary voters indicated they would support the Democrat in the Senate race, state Senator Barbara Bollier, if Mr. Kobach were the nominee, according to two Republicans familiar with the data,” the New York Times reported last week.

Some Senate Republicans have urged President Trump to endorse Marshall, but Trump let it be known last week that he was going to sit it out.

Trump hasn’t offered an official reason for declining to endorse a candidate in Kansas, but he announced his decision, according to multiple reports, after Texas senator Ted Cruz reminded Trump in a conversation aboard Air Force One last Wednesday that Marshall endorsed John Kasich in the 2016 GOP presidential primary.

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‘Our ancestors died for us to vote, they also died for us to be able to carry guns’

When Americans panic, they buy guns — lots of them. During the first six months of 2020, amid a global coronavirus pandemic, gun retailers have reported a record 10.3 million firearm transactions, according to a new survey by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Overall, gun sales in the U.S. have increased by 95 percent while ammunition sales have increased 139 percent compared to the same period last year.

And while various demographic groups are buying guns in 2020, African-Americans account for the highest increase in gun purchases of any group.

“The highest overall firearm sales increase comes from Black men and women, who show a 58.2% increase in purchases during the first six months of 2020 versus the same period last year,” Jim Curcuruto, NSSF director of research and market development noted in his report. “Bottom line is that there has never been a sustained surge in firearm sales quite like what we are in the midst of.”

Getty Images

In many states, estimated gun sales doubled in March compared with February. In Utah, they nearly tripled. And in Michigan, a coronavirus hotspot, sales more than tripled.

Yet, it’s not the first time gun sales have surged following an event with national implications. In 2012, gun sales nationwide spiked as more than 3 million were purchased in the months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in which a gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children, in Newton, Connecticut. After this tragedy, Americans feared stricter gun laws so they bought more guns. In the eight years under President Obama, the gun industry grew 158%, according to the NSSF, over more fears of impending gun control.

While much of the spike in sales early on can be attributed to uncertainty surrounding business shutdowns and initial stay-at-home orders because of COVID-19 precautions, more recent sales can be attributed to an uneasiness around Black Lives Matter rallies and increased calls to defund the police.

Michael Cargill, a Black man and owner of Central Texas Gun Works in Austin, says that amid all the anxiety over the pandemic and rallies, people are buying guns to take personal responsibility for their safety. “People were concerned with people breaking into their home or breaking into their vehicle or attacking them while they’re in their vehicles [after COVID-19],” he said in a video chat interview with Yahoo News. “So people wanted to take their own protection into their own hands.”

Michael Cargill, owner of Central Texas Gun Works in Austin
Michael Cargill, owner of Central Texas Gun Works in Austin

In the past few months Cargill says he’s seen triple the amount of people coming into his store wanting to purchase firearms and he’s noticed a surge in Black customers especially. Cargill believes Black people are buying more guns because they are getting more educated on the history of gun control. “They’re understanding that gun control first started in the 1800s … so people are realizing that every time there’s a gun law that’s targeting a certain group of people, it’s usually the African American group,” he said. “So they’re saying, with everything going on, we’ve got to make sure that we’re legal with this firearm. We’re going to make sure we know what the law is, we want to make sure we know where we can take it, where we can’t take it.”

History shows that gun control laws have always been unfavorable to Black Americans. Even before America was a country, Black people were banned from owning guns. “The first gun control law in the territory that is now the United States was passed in Virginia in 1640,” writer Daniel Rivero notes in a 2016 Splinter article. “It explicitly banned black people from owning guns, even if they were not slaves.”

More than 200 years later, in 1857, the prospect of armed Black people became a crucial factor in the Dred Scott case. As Scott attempted to become an American citizen with all its inalienable rights that include owning a gun, the court ruled that “a negro, whose ancestors were imported into this country, and sold as slaves,” were not “intended to be included in the general words used in [the Constitution]”.

Following the Civil War, when Black people attempted to arm themselves against white supremacists, Southern state governments passed “black codes” barring them from owning guns.

Two members of the Black Panther Party are met on the steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento, May 2, 1967, by Police Lt. Ernest Holloway, who informs them they will be allowed to keep their weapons as long as they cause no trouble and do not disturb the peace. (Getty Images)
Two members of the Black Panther Party are met on the steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento, May 2, 1967, by Police Lt. Ernest Holloway, who informs them they will be allowed to keep their weapons as long as they cause no trouble and do not disturb the peace. (Getty Images)

Throughout the 1960s, the Black Panthers chose to open carry in California as a sign to police that they would no longer endure racial attacks. In 1967, 30 Black Panthers protested on the steps of the California state house armed with shotguns and pistols. They announced, “The time has come for Black people to arm themselves”. The move frightened politicians, and it wasn’t long before then-Gov. Ronald Reagan signed a state ban on open carry into law, called the Mulford Act.

Whitney Davis of Houston, Texas admits that learning more about Black history is the reason why she recently purchased two guns for herself. “I realize in this country a long time ago, Black people weren’t even allowed to own guns,” she said.

Davis’ dad grew up on a ranch in rural Texas where over his lifetime he accrued a lot of guns, but it wasn’t until Davis learned more about her Black ancestors that she felt motivated to buy guns of her own. “So just like people promote that our ancestors died for us to vote, they also died for us to be able to carry guns as well,” she said.” So I wanted to fulfill what my ancestors weren’t able to do in the past.”

Davis endorses a common rationale voiced by proponents of easing restrictions on guns. “If everybody knows that everybody has a gun then maybe you’re a lot of less likely to attack people or hurt people,” she said. “If everyone knows, if you have a gun, I got one too, it’s an equal playing field.”

Despite the increase in Black gun ownership and general knowledge about Black history, many Black people have still lost their lives over owning a gun. “In 2016, legal gun owner Philando Castile was shot after informing a Minnesota police officer that he was armed,” HuffPost’s Julia Craven notes. “Two years prior, Tamir Rice was killed by Cleveland police while holding a toy gun. John Crawford suffered the same fate in a Beavercreek, Ohio, Walmart.”

On July 25, Garrett Foster, a white man, attended a Black Lives Matter protest in Austin, Texas, carrying a semi-automatic rifle. After a confrontation with a motorist, Foster was shot dead on July 25.

The move for African Americans to own guns appears to be a break from the progressive movement in American politics, which people of color generally align with.

1968 Washington Riots (Getty Images)
1968 Washington Riots (Getty Images)

The Congressional Black Caucus has pushed for stricter gun control measures in the past, most recently following two mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. “We have worked vigorously with House Democrats to pass universal background check legislation,” Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus said following these two tragedies. The lawmaker said the CBC has also backed a bill to ban a “loophole” in gun-control law introduced by the majority whip, Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC). Rep. Bass did not return Yahoo News’ request for comment on this story.

But Republicans have consistently been resistant to increased gun control measures. In response to the CBC’s push, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Congress was “in a holding pattern” on gun control awaiting proposals from the White House.

“I still await guidance from the White House as to what [Trump] thinks he’s comfortable signing,” the Kentucky Republican said last September. “If and when that happens, then we’ll have a real possibility of actually changing the law and hopefully making some progress.”

Maj Toure, the founder of Black Guns Matter, an education non-profit founded in 2016 that educates people in urban communities on their Second Amendment rights through firearms training and education, believes the more Black people who have guns, the better race relations will be in America. “If everyone has the right mindset with a gun, that solves race issues,” Toure told Yahoo News in a phone interview. “An armed society is a polite society.”

Maj Toure of Black Guns Matter attends a Town Hall on Gun Control at Universal Audenried Charter High School in Philadelphia, PA, on August 7, 2018. (Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto)
Maj Toure of Black Guns Matter attends a Town Hall on Gun Control at Universal Audenried Charter High School in Philadelphia, PA, on August 7, 2018. (Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto)

Toure advocates for Black gun ownership as a tool for self-defense and pushes gun safety. But he acknowledges the fact that fear makes people buy things. Toure welcomes this.

“I love that so many Black people are buying guns,” he said. “If you’re racist … and you think that one group is inferior to another, then you should be afraid.”

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Read more from Yahoo News:

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Trump criticizes Birx for the first time after she issues coronavirus warnings

While Trump and other top White House officials have publicly attacked Dr. Anthony Fauci, the tweet marked the first time Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, publicly drew Trump’s ire.

“So Crazy Nancy Pelosi said horrible things about Dr. Deborah Birx, going after her because she was too positive on the very good job we are doing on combatting the China Virus, including Vaccines & Therapeutics. In order to counter Nancy, Deborah took the bait & hit us. Pathetic!” Trump wrote.

Birx sounded the alarms during an appearance on CNN Sunday, telling CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” that the pandemic has reached a new phase.

“What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread. It’s into the rural as equal urban areas,” she said, suggesting that some Americans in multi-generational families should start wearing masks inside their homes.

She did not reject a warning by former Federal Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb that there could be 300,000 coronavirus deaths by the end of the year, saying, “Anything is possible.”

Birx also responded to remarks from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said on ABC’s “This Week” that she did not have confidence in the task force coordinator because the President continues to spread disinformation.

“I think the President is spreading disinformation about the virus and she is his appointee, so I don’t have confidence there, no,” Pelosi said.

Birx then defended herself on Sunday.

“I have never been called pollyannish, or nonscientific, or non-data driven,” Birx said. “And I will stake my 40-year career on those fundamental principles of utilizing data to really implement better programs to save more lives.”

Birx has been able to develop a close relationship with the Trump White House, which has tainted her reputation among some public health experts. She has avoided openly criticizing the administration. Fauci, who has taken a more public-facing role with many media appearances, has earned more irritation from the President, who openly attacked the doctor and questioned during a press briefing last week why Fauci’s approval was so high.

And White House trade adviser Peter Navarro wrote a USA Today op-ed slamming Fauci, who, he claimed, “has been wrong about everything I interacted with him on.”

The White House insisted there has been no effort to undermine the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, but Navarro said last week he did not regret the op-ed.

CNN’s Stephen Collinson, Veronica Stracqualursi and Alison Main contributed to this report.

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Boston Bomber May Dodge Death Penalty as Justice Department Preps for More Executions – Reason.com

A federal court has overturned the death penalty sentence for convicted Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, citing jury biases.

The ruling doesn’t necessarily mean that Tsarnaev won’t be executed. It does mean that Tsarnaev will receive a new penalty-phase trial.

Tsarnaev was convicted and sentenced to death for his role in 2013’s bombing of the Boston Marathon, where three were killed and more than 200 injured. He carried out the attack with his brother Tamerlan, who was killed later in a confrontation with police.

Tsarnaev didn’t fight to show his innocence so much as to avoid the death penalty. He conceded his role in the bombing, but his attorneys attempted to portray Tamerlan as the mastermind, radicalizing and pushing Tsarnaev into participating in the attack.

The jury didn’t buy it, and Tsarnaev was sentenced to death in 2015. Tsarnaev’s attorneys had asked for the venue for the trial to be changed, moving it out of the Boston area, but was denied. That turned out to be a problem. On Friday, a panel of judges with the U.S. Court of Appeals First Circuit determined that the judge overseeing the trial did a terrible job evaluating jurors for bias for the sentencing phase. Two jurors, for example, were seated despite having posted very strong opinions about the bombing on social media. One juror had retweeted a post calling Tsarnaev a “piece of garbage” but had told the judge she had not made any comments about the case.

Ultimately, the three-judge panel determined that U.S. District Judge George O’Toole did not properly identify and prevent prejudice from influencing Tsarnaev’s sentencing. And so, because of that, they’ve tossed out the death sentence and called for a new jury and a new sentencing trial. The Justice Department has the option to appeal to the full court instead of accepting a panel’s ruling; it could even try to take it to the Supreme Court.

There is absolutely no chance here for Tsarnaev to go free. He is still convicted of the major charges against him (though the ruling did toss three weapons-related charges for technical reasons related to the changing definitions of what constitutes a “crime of violence” under federal law). But the Sixth Amendment guarantees the accused a right to an “impartial jury,” and there’s documented evidence that did not happen in the sentencing phase.

Until this year, the federal government hadn’t executed a prisoner since 2003. But last month President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr restarted federal executions. Over the course of four days in July, the Department of Justice executed three men who had convicted of capital murder: Daniel Lewis Lee, Wesley Ira Purkey, and Dustin Lee Honken.

The Justice Department has now scheduled two more executions for August and another two in September. On Friday, as a federal court was ordering a new sentencing hearing for Tsarnaev, the Justice Department announced that William Emmett LeCroy and Christopher Andre Vialva, both previously sentenced to death for murder, have been scheduled for lethal injections in September.

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Why so slow, Joe? Biden moves back VP announcement again

Joe Biden finds himself in quite a pickle. The closer he gets to announcing a choice for his running mate, the more controversies pop up about the alleged frontrunners. Whether it’s trips to Cuba and fawning over Castro or baggage over past actions in office, some of the women on his list are potential disasters waiting to happen.

Let’s be honest – Joe Biden isn’t making the decision anyway. His team is doing it for him and they’ll let him know when a decision is made. All of the possible candidates are female and most are women of color because that is what is expected in today’s political climate. Sorry, Elizabeth Warren. She is not only a White woman but she is also a bit long in the tooth. Sleepy Joe needs some energy infused into his campaign and while Elizabeth Warren has a high energy level on the campaign trail, she is nonetheless a seventy-year-old woman who would be running with a 77-year-old man. Biden will celebrate his 78th birthday shortly after election day.

I keep thinking that since President Trump is starting to catch on favorably in polling with his law and order actions, Team Biden may be putting that at the top of the list of for qualifications. That could mean Kamala Harris because of her experience as Attorney General of California and the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. But, her history in those positions is less than palatable to the far left. Biden could pick her because she is well-known but he doesn’t need her to deliver California for him and the Bernie Bros wing of the party wouldn’t be happy. Also, Kamala is an ambitious politician. She’ll run again for president and Biden will have to keep looking over his shoulder with her. She didn’t catch on with voters during the presidential primary. A recent USA Today/Suffolk poll shows 72% of Democrats want Biden to select a woman of color as his vice president. In that poll, 36% said they would be excited with Harris as the choice.

Team Biden could choose Rep. Val Demings if he’s going with a law and order choice. She had a 27-year career in law enforcement that ended with her being the first woman to become Chief of the Orlando Police Department. She was also a member of the House impeachment team. She has raised her profile during the BLM marches and rioting through cable news interviews. Her professional history, though, will likely not go over with the BLM supporters. This is 2020 and that is just how it is.

Susan Rice is alleged to be at the top of the list. She’s got experience in foreign policy and Biden worked with her during the Obama administration. He is said to be comfortable with her. Conservatives would rejoice if she is chosen because of her hideous record in foreign policy, including Benghazi. For those hoping Biden will be Obama’s third term, Rice would be a good choice. She could help get the rest of the band back together. That would be enough to send any conservative running, not walking, to the polls in November to vote for Trump. She’s never run for elected office, though, and her personality isn’t exactly all warm and fuzzy so she’d be an unknown quantity on the campaign trail.

Those three women of color are the ones who I think are at the top of the list. I did see Stacey Abrams on a Sunday show yesterday but I think her ship has sailed. And, I saw Karen Bass on one show but, as referenced above, she has some real baggage that has to be explained away.

One name that no longer makes news for being on the list is Amy Klobuchar. She would be a reasonable choice but she’s a White woman. She could bring the moderates out to vote and help pretend that Joe won’t go bat poop crazy to keep the far-left appeased once he gets into office. He’s already said he’ll be the most progressive president if he’s elected so Klobuchar could calm the voters in the middle of the country. But, he won’t pick her. She really got the short end of the stick, if you ask me. She dropped out of the primary and flew immediately to Texas to campaign for Joe. I’m not sure what Team Biden promised her but it seems like she got a raw deal.

Originally, Biden said he’d announce his choice on or near August 1. Since then the timeline has been fluid. Now the announcement is reported to be pushed back to August 10. The Democrat convention begins August 17, so he’s running out of time if he’s going to make an announcement before then. Biden is beholden to Black voters, especially Black women voters, so he limited himself right away as he pandered to Black voters. Now he has to keep the Bernie Bros happy. Will Sanders play a part in the selection of Biden’s running mate? Bernie’s voters are not at all excited about Biden. Sanders is now telling Democrat voters to just go ahead and get Biden elected and then they can work out their agenda after Biden’s in office. Which sounds a lot like, “Just hold your nose and vote for Joe.” Not exactly a rousing endorsement, amirite?

I have no sympathy for Team Biden. The longer they take, the worse the top contenders look. The party of identity politics is more concerned about checking boxes than looking clear-eyed for the best running mate. That’s fine with me. I don’t want the next president to be a Democrat anyway, especially one who will only be a figurehead and allow the Marxist wing of the party to gain control.

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Stimulus talks: Lawmakers, White House far apart on 2nd emergency aid package, sources say

The US economy, plagued by a resurgent pandemic, is showing signs of sliding backwards.

Key deadlines on extending a federal eviction moratorium and federal unemployment benefits have come and gone. Yet lawmakers and the White House, sources say, are as far apart as they’ve ever been in talks on the next emergency aid package.

As one person involved told CNN on Sunday night: “No clue how we get this done at this point. Just so much outstanding.”

Bottom line

Negotiators on both sides emerged from a three-hour-plus meeting on Saturday with by far the most positive words about where things stood. What that really underscored was just how much of a mess these talks have been. The meeting was productive because negotiators left with a better understanding of the full scope of disagreements (and areas of potential agreement), according to two sources. Not because they’d made headway toward an actual deal.

What to read

Very good recap of a day that underscored Saturday’s optimism was short-sighted.

What to watch

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows will be back on Capitol Hill to meet with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.

The framing

To understand why the two sides remain so far apart, it’s worth comparing how each is framing the scale of the crisis. Mnuchin, during the talks over the initial $2.2 trillion CARES Act, dismissed concerns about deficits due to historically low borrowing costs and the urgency of the moment. That has shifted — on Sunday he made a point of noting concerns about adding to much to the national debt in the next round.

This, on the other hand, was how Pelosi framed things in a letter to her House Democratic colleagues on Saturday night:

“All parties must understand the gravity of the situation in order to reach an agreement that protects Americans’ lives, livelihoods and the life of our democracy.”

There are a large number of policy differences here, but the biggest issue throughout the first week-plus of real negotiations has been the lens through which the two sides view the scale of the current crisis. And until that starts to merge, at least somewhat, there is no deal to be had.

The timing

The policy deadlines, at least up to this point, didn’t spark a deal. The Senate is scheduled to leave for August recess at the end of this week, but there’s zero sense something will come together before then. Neither side wants to leave town for the month without reaching an agreement, but at this point, that agreement — and then the process of actually getting it through both chambers — is a long way off.

“I’m not optimistic that there will be a solution in the very near term,” Meadows said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Keep a pin in this

If and when a deal is reached, this isn’t going to move quickly. The Senate can move at light speed when everyone agrees. But it only takes one senator to slow up the process and make it take days. There will be well more than one Republican senator with significant objections to any final product. That almost certainly means it will take a few days for the Senate to process and pass any final deal.

Something to keep an eye on

Things are starting to get real when the relevant committees in both chambers start kicking into gear and working through legislative proposals. That, obviously, hasn’t occurred yet. But if and when that occurs, that will be a signal that things are, actually, starting to move.

Addressing the “unilateral” idea

There has been chatter for several weeks that the White House may look to pursue unilateral options to address the economy if it feels a deal with Democrats is out of reach. On Capitol Hill, those who were aware of the talk mostly just laughed it off. But it spilled into public view Monday with The Washington Post reporting it was becoming a very real option given how far apart the two sides remain.

Let’s go ahead and address this head on: there is nothing the White House can do on unemployment benefits unilaterally. There is nothing they can do in terms of sending out another round of stimulus checks. There is nothing they can do on liability protections. There are limits to what they can do regarding an eviction moratorium. There is nothing they can do in terms of allowing hard-hit small businesses to access a second Paycheck Protection Program loan.

In short: can the White House do some things unilaterally? Sure. Can they do anything that actually makes a difference or addresses any of the major areas Democrats *and* Republicans acknowledge need to be in the next round of emergency aid? Nope. Remember that as stories like this happen to pop up at times when negotiations appear to need a jolt.

The biggest holdups

(Again, these are the biggest picture items. There are dozens of smaller-bore issues that will also create disagreement or problems that the negotiators haven’t really gotten to yet, sources say.)

  • Federal unemployment benefits

The areas of agreement

  • Paycheck Protection Program

On the horizon

It remains unclear what, if anything, will start to move the talks toward the direction of a broader agreement, so keep an eye on the Senate floor this week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell teed up a shell bill and amendments for later in the week that may force up or down votes on a series of policy issues, including a pared-back extension of federal unemployment benefits.

There’s no sense it will split Democrats at all, but sometimes legislative action of any kind can spark talks outside the regular leadership structure. That may be what occurs here. Or it could just be another partisan messaging war on the floor. Stay tuned!

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Biden vs. Trump Live Updates: 2020 Election and Vice President Race

Obama issues his first slate of 2020 endorsements.

Former President Barack Obama issued his first slate of 2020 endorsements on Monday, backing 118 candidates in 17 states with the aim of helping Democrats maintain their majority in the House, win back control of the Senate and flip key state legislative chambers ahead of the 2020 redistricting.

Mr. Obama, who remains one of the most popular and unifying figures in the Democratic Party, has taken on a growing profile in the 2020 campaign, aggressively raising money for his former vice president, Joseph R. Biden Jr., and delivering a sweeping call for changes to voting laws last week in a speech at the funeral of Representative John Lewis.

His new endorsements — including 52 for the House of Representatives and five for the Senate — come in key battlegrounds for control of Capitol Hill, according to a list provided to The Times’s Shane Goldmacher and posted on Medium. A second set of endorsements is planned for states whose primaries have yet to be held.

“Our country’s future hangs on this election,” Mr. Obama said in a statement.

Initially, he is backing Democratic challengers running for the Senate against Republican incumbents in five states: Colorado, Iowa, Maine, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Mr. Obama, whom the Republican Party found great success vilifying in down-ballot races during his presidency, is not so far endorsing Senate candidates in some more conservative states, including Montana, Kentucky, Georgia and Texas, where it is less clear his support would help statewide.

But he is endorsing a full 27 candidates in Texas, including 19 for the state House, where the Democrats need to win nine seats to take control of the lower chamber, giving the party a political foothold before districts are redrawn after the 2020 census.

That has been a top priority for Mr. Obama, who has consistently backed candidates whom the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, led by his former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr., has labeled important to the redistricting process.

Mr. Obama’s endorsements include five candidates for the State Senate in Pennsylvania and nine for the State House; six for the State House in Ohio; and 10 for the State House in North Carolina and five for the State Senate. The only governor in Mr. Obama’s initial endorsement list is Roy Cooper of North Carolina, a top presidential battleground where Mr. Obama is also supporting three other statewide officials.

For the House, Mr. Obama is supporting an ideological range of new Democratic candidates and incumbents, including many who first won their seats in 2018, such as Representatives Katie Porter of California, Lauren Underwood of Illinois, Abby Finkenauer of Iowa, Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, Antonio Delgado of New York and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia.

Among candidates seeking Republican-held seats, Mr. Obama is supporting Amy Kennedy in New Jersey, who is seeking to unseat Representative Jeff Van Drew, who flipped parties to become a Republican; Jackie Gordon of New York, who is vying to replace the retiring Representative Peter King; and Wendy Davis, the Texas Democrat who previously ran for governor and is running against Representative Chip Roy this year.

Mr. Obama also endorsed 10 alumni of his administration.

“I’m proud to endorse this diverse and hopeful collection of thoughtful, empathetic and highly qualified Democrats,” Mr. Obama said.

A presidential endorsement is coveted because it can help drive local news coverage and be featured in mailers, digital ads and fund-raising appeals.

The vice-presidential watch begins in earnest this week.

It will be one of the most attention-grabbing moments of the campaign: Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has said he expects to announce his choice for a running mate early this month.

Like everything else in this presidential campaign, the whole process has been odd.

It may be harder, if not impossible, for Mr. Biden to do in-person interviews with the person he wants as his running mate. News organizations will be unable to use their best sleuthing techniques — like tracking down the tail number of private planes to figure out who is flying into town for the big reveal (since no one is likely to be flying anywhere for the announcement). And the announcement is likely to be as scaled back as this year’s conventions: no crowds, no hugs or hands hoisted in the air, no final shots of the families gathered around at the front of a stage.

Coronavirus aside, it’s already been an unusual vice-presidential nomination process. In a break from tradition, which dictated that the candidates laid low as the selection unfolded behind the scenes, many of the prospective choices have been freely giving interviews, talking policy or going on television. There has even been the rebuttal — in real time — of revelations that might have derailed a contender’s candidacy. (Some of those revelations may even have been dug up by supporters of rivals in the vice-presidential race.)

Over the weekend, one possible Biden running mate, Representative Karen Bass, Democrat of California, posted a tweet in response to the disclosure that she had offered warm praise for the Church of Scientology when she spoke at a groundbreaking of its headquarters in her Hollywood district 10 years ago. She explained why she had attended (it was a big project in her district) and added: “Just so you all know, I proudly worship at First New Christian Fellowship Baptist Church in South LA.”

Stacey Abrams, who ran for governor in Georgia, started the trend of potential Biden running mates talking about being potential Biden running- mates, leaving no doubt about her interest. Susan E. Rice, the former national security adviser, spoke at length about her résumé and interest in electoral politics the other day.

This is another sign of how politics are changing; old rules around the process now seem quaint in this era of Twitter and 24/7 maneuvering. For another, should Mr. Biden win, the No. 2 slot is probably a more valuable job than in the past: Mr. Biden is 77 and many Democrats don’t expect him to seek a second term.

After retreating from the television airwaves nationwide last week to reassess its strategy, President Trump’s campaign announced a return in four states on Monday with two new ads and a national cable buy.

The Trump campaign is pressing a similar message as before, arguing that Mr. Biden is pushing policies of the “radical left” and his agenda would make the country less safe.

One ad features images of three liberal boogeymen that Republicans have had more success demonizing than Mr. Biden himself: Senator Bernie Sanders, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Representative Ilhan Omar.

The second ad features a woman, identified as a mother of four, silently flipping through cards warning about things Mr. Biden would do as president, including raising taxes and granting “amnesty.” It ends with, “I won’t risk my children’s future with Biden.”

The campaign says it is appealing to the “silent majority,” the group of voters who helped Mr. Trump win in 2016 and that the campaign claims “remains undercounted today” in a race that polls show Mr. Trump losing.

Bill Stepien, Mr. Trump’s new campaign manager, said the ads were focused on states that will begin voting earlier in the process. “In many states, more than half of voters will cast their votes well before Election Day, and we have adjusted our strategy to reflect that,” he said. “Joe Biden is continuing to spend millions of dollars a week in states that won’t come online for two months, and we encourage him to keep at it.”

The new ad buy leaves off some notable battlegrounds, especially Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan — all states that Mr. Trump won four years ago.

Mr. Stepien on Monday also renewed the campaign’s call for more and earlier debates.

Appearing on “Fox and Friends,” one of Mr. Trump’s favorite programs, in his first television interview since becoming campaign manager, Mr. Stepien noted that by the time of the first debate, on Sept. 29, voting will have already begun in 16 states. The Trump campaign has accused Mr. Biden of avoiding scrutiny by mostly remaining in his Delaware home during the pandemic.

“We want more debates,” Mr. Stepien said. “We want debates starting sooner.”

On the first anniversary of the El Paso massacre, Biden calls on Americans to ‘stand against hate.’

In a three-minute video posted by his campaign, Mr. Biden on Monday recognized the first anniversary of the mass shooting in El Paso in which 23 people were killed by a white gunman who targeted Latinos. The gunman posted a manifesto online saying the attack was in response to “the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

“He chose El Paso because it is a city defined by its diversity,” Mr. Biden said in the video.

Mr. Biden has made restoring the “soul of the nation” a centerpiece of his campaign since he entered the race and, without naming President Trump directly, he said the anniversary of the massacre was a moment “to recommit to the battle for the soul of this nation.”

“A battle against the forces of white supremacy that are part of the very foundations of our nation — but which this president has encouraged and emboldened,” he said. “A battle against the spread of hatred’s poisonous ideas in every form.”

The Latino vote is viewed as a key bloc for Mr. Biden, particularly as his campaign tries not merely to turn Arizona into a swing state but also to win its electoral votes. His campaign has said it also hopes to compete in Texas, and it named six staff members there on Monday, including his state director. But the cost is typically seen as prohibitively expensive given that winning there would almost certainly mean that Mr. Biden had already won enough Electoral College votes to become president.

Mr. Trump is almost certain to lose the Latino vote, but his campaign hopes to keep the vote margin down among the demographic.

A year ago, Democrats had all but given up on Ohio as a lost cause, citing Mr. Trump’s decisive eight-percentage-point victory in the state in 2016.

But with recent public polls suggesting that Mr. Biden is neck-and-neck with Mr. Trump there, Mr. Biden has expanded his campaign map to include the Buckeye State, a traditional battleground that President Barack Obama carried in 2008 and 2012.

The latest evidence of the campaign’s newfound Ohio ambition is a four-stop — albeit virtual — Biden for President tour that is set for this week.

Senator Sherrod Brown and other Ohio leaders will promote Mr. Biden’s plan to bring back manufacturing jobs and create five million new ones during online round-table discussions in four cities, the Biden campaign announced Sunday.

Mr. Biden also announced a seven-figure television and digital ad buy in the Youngstown and Toledo markets.

The ads feature Mr. Biden’s childhood home, working-class Scranton, Pa. One of the ads leads off with an aerial view of the city, once known for its dominance in the iron, coal and railroad industries.

Mr. Trump, meanwhile, is expected to appear in person in Ohio this week. A spokesman for the Republican National Committee confirmed that Mr. Trump would fly to Bratenahl, a lakefront suburb of Cleveland, for a fund-raiser on Thursday.

A $35,000 contribution will get donors a photo with the president.

As an activist who jumped into the political arena after the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., six years ago, Cori Bush is accustomed to hard fights. She has been maced, shot at with rubber bullets and cloaked in tear gas at so many protests against police brutality that they have blurred together.

So when she heard that Representative William Lacy Clay, the 10-term Democrat she is challenging in Missouri’s Democratic primary on Tuesday, had called her “a prop” for the Justice Democrats, a national progressive group, Ms. Bush did not miss a beat.

“I had no title, no name, came out of the Ferguson uprising and people know who I am across the world,” Ms. Bush said on Saturday, responding to comments Mr. Clay made about her in an interview with The New York Times. “Not because I took money from some group — none of that. It is because I stayed true to a message of change for real people.”

Of Mr. Clay, she added, “He doesn’t understand that, because he doesn’t understand fighting for people.”

All over the country, progressive candidates like Ms. Bush, 44, are doing battle with veteran incumbents over the identity of the Democratic Party. In New York City, Jamaal Bowman defeated Representative Eliot L. Engel, a 16-term incumbent and powerful committee chairman. In western Massachusetts, Alex Morse, the mayor of Holyoke, is trying to unseat another long-serving chairman, Representative Richard E. Neal.

They are seeking to sustain the momentum gathered in 2018 by insurgents like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In St. Louis, Ms. Bush’s candidacy is a test of whether the national protest movement can translate into hard electoral power on the federal level.

For Democratic leaders watching warily from Washington, Mr. Clay’s fate will also indicate whether the rise in progressive energy that has cost powerful white incumbents in places like the Bronx, Queens and Boston their seats can also dislodge a Black representative deep in the heartland of the country.

Joe Arpaio, who spent 24 years doling out his punitive brand of justice in Arizona’s most populous county and billed himself as “America’s toughest sheriff,” suffered a landslide defeat in 2016, largely because of his hard-line immigration stances and his own pugnacious defiance, which earned him a criminal conviction for contempt of court.

Now he’s trying to win back his old job.

Mr. Arpaio faces his first test in the Republican primary election in Maricopa County on Tuesday, when he must survive a three-way race that includes a challenge from his former chief deputy, Jerry Sheridan.

Few in the state believe Mr. Arpaio, 88, can mount a successful comeback and win in November, saying that he’s too old, too out of touch or too politically damaged to run a credible campaign in 2020.

There are signs that Mr. Arpaio, a former kingmaker in Republican circles, may not even survive the primary. Nearly 80 percent of Arizonans cast their ballots early by mail, and a recent poll of Republicans who had already voted showed Mr. Arpaio and Mr. Sheridan statistically tied.

Still, strategists and political operatives are monitoring Mr. Arpaio’s fate for signs of the broader implications for Arizona politics. The former sheriff had closely aligned himself with Mr. Trump on immigration, earning the president’s praise. The two men are stylistic doppelgängers who vilify undocumented immigrants and are pushing a strident law-and-order message amid a nationwide movement to stop police abuses against people of color.

“If you want to track the trajectory of Trumpism, you should study Arizona circa 2006 to about 2016,” said Kirk Adams, a Republican former speaker of the Arizona House and former chief of staff to Gov. Doug Ducey. “Arizona was the precursor.”

The coronavirus crisis means that November’s election results may be delayed, as states like Pennsylvania count mail-in ballots for weeks while Mr. Trump tweets false allegations about fraud. That means the country’s news outlets will have an outsize role to play in conveying to the public what’s really happening.

Our media columnist, Ben Smith, spoke last week to executives, TV hosts and election analysts across leading American newsrooms, and wrote that he was struck by the blithe confidence among some top managers and hosts, who generally said they’ve handled complicated elections before and can do so again.

And he was alarmed by the near panic among some of the people paying the closest attention — the analysts and producers trying, and often failing, to get answers from state election officials about how and when they will count the ballots and report results.

“The nerds are freaking out,” said Brandon Finnigan, the founder of Decision Desk HQ, which delivers election results to media outlets. “I don’t think it’s penetrated enough in the average viewer’s mind that there’s not going to be an election night. The usual razzmatazz of a panel sitting around discussing election results — that’s dead.”

These conservatives’ focus: ‘owning the libs.’

When Democrats think of Mr. Trump’s allies in the conservative media, they might immediately picture Sean Hannity or Tucker Carlson, who make dogged defenses of the president on Fox News.

But another group of conservative commentators — who have large social media followings, successful podcasts and daily Fox News appearances themselves — has also helped insulate the president and preserve his popularity with his base, even as many Americans say they are likely to vote against him in November.

These writers and pundits, including Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist and the author and podcast host Ben Shapiro, don’t tend to fiercely defend Mr. Trump. Often, they don’t bother at all with the awkward business of trying to explain away Mr. Trump’s latest folly.

Instead, they offer an outlet for outrage against those the president has declared his enemies, often by reducing them to a culture war caricature of liberalism.

The capacity that many Trump supporters have developed to focus so intensely on the perceived wrongdoing of his opponents is a powerful asset for the president as he runs for re-election amid growing economic and social turmoil and a public health crisis that a majority of voters say they don’t trust him to handle.

This almost entirely white cohort of conservative commentators can spend ample time mocking the mainstream and liberal media for focusing on Mr. Trump’s racist and divisive messaging without giving nearly as much consideration to the harm caused, for instance, when he promotes a video of someone shouting “white power.”

A Michigan state senator who battled Whitmer over her virus response tests positive.

A Michigan state senator who has been highly critical of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic in Michigan said on Sunday that he had tested positive for the virus.

The senator, Tom Barrett, a Republican from Charlotte, Mich., announced in a statement that as a member of the Michigan Army National Guard, he underwent a coronavirus test on Friday as part of a program to test reservists before they depart for training.

“Despite taking reasonable precautions, I was notified this afternoon that I tested positive,” he said. “Thankfully, I do not have any significant symptoms at this time and I will be self-isolating according to medical guidelines.”

Mr. Barrett sponsored a bill in April that would have repealed a law that gave governors emergency authority during a public health crisis. The bill came after Ms. Whitmer extended a stay-at-home order that kept most businesses closed and Michigan residents at home.

“All of us, regardless of political stripe or affiliation, or no affiliation at all, should be gravely concerned that any governor would claim authority to seize unilateral control of state government for as long as he or she chooses,” he said at the time.

The bills passed on party-line votes with Republicans supporting the measure and Democrats opposing. Ms. Whitmer vetoed the bill when it reached her desk.

While the full Senate did not meet last week, Mr. Barrett attended three committee hearings. The Senate majority leader, Mike Shirkey, a Republican, said that all senators and staff members had been informed of the positive test result and that “we will evaluate the need for changes to the legislative calendar in the coming days.”

Reporting was contributed by Nicholas Fandos, Shane Goldmacher, Kathleen Gray, Adam Nagourney, Jeremy W. Peters, Stephanie Saul, Ben Smith, Hank Stephenson.

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Veepstakes Heats Up: Guide to Biden’s running mate options

The Democratic National Convention is exactly two weeks away and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has yet to select his running mate — leaving supporters, detractors and the contenders themselves anxiously waiting for his announcement.

The presumptive nominee has played his cards close to the vest in recent months, holding a number of fundraising events with a host of potential contenders but seldom addressing the decision in public. Biden told reporters during a rare news conference at the beginning of July that he had prepared a list of “women of color” for consideration – but he wouldn’t announce a decision until August.

“There are a number of women of color. There are Latino women. There are Asian. There are — across the board. And we’re just underway now in the hard vet of going into the deep background checks that take anywhere from six to eight weeks to be done,” Biden said.

Biden’s list of vice president contenders includes (from left) Sen. Kamala Harris, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Rep. Karen Bass, Rep. Val Demings, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms

JOE BIDEN SHOULD NOT DEBATE PRESIDENT TRUMP, CLINTON’S EX-WH SPOKESMAN SAYS

And in recent days some Biden’s potential picks have engaged in a media blitz, with Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., each appearing on “Fox News Sunday.” Meanwhile, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was on MSNBC’s “Kasie DC.”

Here’s a handy guide to Joe Biden’s potential running mate options.

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.: Harris has long been considered a frontrunner in the VP race, but her record as a prosecutor and contentious debate exchanges with Biden during the primary are seen as liabilities. Kamala Harris: 5 things to know about Biden’s possible Democratic VP contender

Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla.: Demings was the first female police chief in Orlando, Fla., and her husband was the city’s first Black police chief. She saw her national profile increase as one of the House’s impeachment managers earlier this year, but her past as a cop could hurt her at a time when law enforcement is not popular with some in the Democratic Party. Val Demings: 5 things to know about Biden’s possible Democratic VP contender

POTENTIAL BIDEN VP PICK LANCE BOTTOMS SAYS SANDERS CAMPAIGN HAS SIGNIFICANT INFLUENCE IN DRAFTING DNC PLATFORM

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms: Bottoms, like other big-city mayors, became more of a national name as she captained her city through the coronavirus pandemic and recent racial unrest. She is also the chair of the DNC’s Platform Drafting Committee. Keisha Lance Bottoms: 5 things to know about Biden’s possible Democratic VP contender

Former Georgia House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams: Abrams gained popularity within the Democratic Party after her unsuccessful campaign for Georgia governor, and has made clear she would be happy to be Biden’s running mate. She also said earlier this year that she plans to be president by 2040. Stacey Abrams: 5 things to know about Biden’s potential vice presidential nominee

Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice: Rice is a controversial figure from her time in the Obama administration, specifically over her handling of Benghazi. But she would be an experienced pick, and someone Biden already has a working relationship with to boot. Susan Rice: 5 things to know about Biden’s possible Democratic VP contender

Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif.: Bass has been a latecomer to the VP conversation but brings to the table her experience as the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and a background in medicine. She has had to fight off controversy, though, about past comments praising Scientology and former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Karen Bass: 5 things to know about Biden’s possible Democratic VP contender

KAREN BASS, ON BIDEN VP SHORTLIST, SCRAMBLES TO EXPLAIN REMARKS ON CASTRO, SCIENTOLOGY

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.: Warren is one of the few White women reportedly in consideration for Biden’s VP slot after Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., took herself out of contention. But she would bring progressive street cred and a plan for just about everything on the ticket. Elizabeth Warren: 5 things to know about Biden’s possible Democratic VP contender

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.: Baldwin comes from a state that was key to President Trump’s 2016 victory and has a progressive record that could excite the base. Additionally, she would be the first openly gay vice president, bringing a potential air of history-making to the Democratic ticket. Tammy Baldwin: 5 things to know about Biden’s possible Democratic VP contender

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.: Another Democratic senator in contention, Duckworth is a veteran who lost her legs in a helicopter crash in the Iraq war. She has also been one of the most successful members of Congress, according to the Center for Effective LawmakingTammy Duckworth: 5 things to know about Biden’s possible Democratic VP contender

WHITMER ANGERS GOPLAWMAKERS AFTER USING STATEWIDE EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM FOR MESSAGE ON MASKS

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: Whitmer, with her tough stance on the coronavirus pandemic, has been one of Trump’s chief antagonists in recent months. She is also the governor of a key swing state. Gretchen Whitmer: 5 things to know about Biden’s possible running mate

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham: New Mexico’s chief executive has fresh experience governing a state through a crisis and has experience on a federal level, too, as a former member of the House of Representatives. Michelle Lujan Grisham: 5 things to know about Biden’s possible VP contender

Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates: Yates was one of the first political martyrs of the Trump administration after she was fired for refusing to enact the initial version of Trump’s Muslim ban. She also has a long history as a prosecutor — she played a role in putting away Eric Rudolph, the man who bombed Olympic Centennial Park during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Sally Yates: 5 things to know about Biden’s possible Democratic VP contender

Sally Yates was removed from her position as acting attorney general after she refused to enforce President Donald Trump's travel ban.

Sally Yates was removed from her position as acting attorney general after she refused to enforce President Donald Trump’s travel ban.
(AP Photo/J. David Ake)

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Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.: Hassan, the other senator from New Hampshire, is the daughter of  Robert Wood, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Lyndon Johnson. She is also a former governor, giving her executive experience to use as a vice president. Maggie Hassan: 5 things to know about Biden’s possible Democratic VP contender

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev.: Cortez Masto was the first Latina to be elected to the U.S. Senate and would be the first Latina or Latino vice president. She also served four years as a civil attorney in Las Vegas and two as a criminal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the nation’s capital. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto: 5 things to know about Biden’s potential vice presidential nominee

Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser, Morgan Phillips and Brie Stimson contributed to this report.

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Trump campaign restarts TV advertising with spots slamming Biden

“Joe Biden has embraced the policies of the radical left,” an ominous voiceover states, going on to criticize Biden’s positions on taxes, immigration and police funding.

“The radical left has taken over Joe Biden and the Democratic Party,” the ad concludes. “Don’t let them take over America.”

The other ad, called “Cards,” features a woman sitting silently on the edge of a bed, displaying a series of posters printed with sentences in block text.

Flipping through the messages, the woman reveals she is a mother of four and claims Biden has “embraced the policies of the far left.”

“I’m afraid to say this out loud … I won’t risk my children’s future with Biden,” the posters state, nodding to the “silent majority” Trump has credited with his rise to the White House.

The pair of spots will run on local broadcast and cable outlets, as well as on Spanish language channels, in North Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Arizona — accompanied by a national cable buy, the campaign said in a news release.

In a statement responding to the new ads, Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates dismissed the Trump campaign as being “locked in a sad and pathetic cycle of bimonthly, shambolic message ‘resets’ — all of which are based on the same recycled lies that voters have seen through countless times before.”

The Trump campaign acknowledged Monday that it had “paused advertising for several days last week while undertaking a review of advertising tactics and has resumed with a smarter, more strategic approach that recognizes the staggered calendar presented in the 2020 election.”

Stepien said in a statement that although the “countdown clock may show 91 days left” before Election Day, “in reality the election starts a lot sooner than that.”

“In many states, more than half of voters will cast their votes well before Election Day and we have adjusted our strategy to reflect that,” Stepien said. “Joe Biden is continuing to spend millions of dollars a week in states that won’t come online for two months and we encourage him to keep at it.”

Notably absent from either ad debuted Monday by the Trump campaign is any reference to Biden as “Sleepy Joe” or “Beijing Biden,” pejoratives previously used by the president’s reelection effort to cast doubt on Biden’s mental acuity and accuse him of unsavory ties to China’s communist government.

In an interview Monday morning on Fox News, Stepien also described Biden exclusively as a “pawn of the radical fringe” of his party and an “empty vessel of the radical left.”

“I think you need to judge Joe Biden by the people he’s surrounding himself with,” Stepien said. “At every step of this campaign, at every mile marker of this campaign, he has kowtowed to the radical left of his party.”

Since Biden became the presumptive Democratic nominee in June, Trump has seemingly struggled to define the former vice president, who ran a comparatively moderate primary race and has largely avoided verbal stumbles as he campaigns for the most part from the basement of his Delaware home.

Virtually all public polling shows Trump trailing significantly behind Biden nationally, as well as in the battleground states that propelled the president to office in 2016.