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Wake Up To Politics - April 9, 2020

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP world headquarters in my bedroom. It’s Thursday, April 9, 2020. 208 days until Election Day. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.

Sanders ends presidential campaign, crowning Biden as presumptive Democratic nominee

After months of debates and primaries, the 2020 Democratic presidential campaign — which once boasted the largest and most diverse field of candidates in U.S. history — ended with a whimper on Wednesday as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders suspended his White House bid.

With Sanders' decision to exit the race, former Vice President Joe Biden was crowned as the party's presumptive pick to face President Donald Trump in November.

"I cannot in good conscience continue to mount a campaign that cannot win and which would interfere with the important work required of all of us in this difficult hour," Sanders said in a video message to supporters from his home in Burlington, referring to the coronavirus pandemic that has moved the presidential race away from the foreground and precipitated his campaign's end.

While acknowledging that his path to the nomination had become "virtually impossible," Sanders declared on Wednesday that he and his supporters had won a much bigger fight: "Few would deny that over the course of the past five years our movement has won the ideological struggle," he said.

Indeed, despite Sanders' loss in his second consecutive presidential bid, his championing of progressive policies — including "Medicare for All," tuition-free public colleges, and a $15 minimum wage — are credited with moving the Democratic Party to the left and shifting the fulcrum of public debate on many issues.

Biden, now faced with defeating another rival atop a populist movement, is expected to struggle in the coming months to win over some of Sanders' fiercest supporters, many of them younger voters who have roundly rejected the former VP.

"I see you, I hear you, and I understand the urgency of what it is we have to get done in this country," Biden said in a Medium post on Wednesday, addressing Sanders supporters.

Biden and Sanders spoke on the phone earlier in the day; the two rivals have been said to share a mutual respect and even affection, a stark contrast to Sanders' frosty relationship with Hillary Clinton, his 2016 opponent. (Sanders remained in the 2016 primaries through June, an additional two months.) According to the New York Times, "the Biden campaign is expected to roll out a series of policy agreements with Mr. Sanders on health care and other issues — potentially including student loans — starting on Thursday."

Although Sanders will not continue actively campaigning, he did signal that he will remain on the ballot in states that have yet to hold their primaries in order to accrue more delegates and wield greater influence over drafting the Democratic platform at the party's convention in August.

Sanders' announcement brought a sudden end to a primary race that had been hotly contested just weeks ago, and which he had been leading at its outset. The Vermont progressive won the most raw votes in the first three contests, but (as in 2016) faltered once the campaign reached more diverse terrain.

After placing fourth and fifth in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire, respectively, Biden engineered an almost-unprecedented turnaround beginning with a landslide victory in the South Carolina primary on February 29.

Within a matter of days, most of Biden's fellow centrists — such as Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Michael Bloomberg — had dropped out and thrown their support behind him. Biden celebrated a 10-state victory on Super Tuesday in early March, and Sanders — once seen as the race's indestructible frontrunner — never recovered. By the month's end, the coronavirus had displaced the 2020 race as a point of focus in American life, freezing the race in place.  

Although Sanders is out of the presidential race, leaving Biden and Trump to hurtle toward a bitter general election contest, his shadow will remain as Biden seeks to persuade and mobilize the Sanders base to support him in the fall.

"I hope you will join us," Biden wrote to these voters on Wednesday. "You are more than welcome. You're needed."

Signs of hope emerge in global battle against coroanvirus

The New York Times reports:

"The world began this week to see small but encouraging signs that concerted efforts to drastically change human behavior — to suspend daily routines by staying at home — are slowing the insidious spread of the novel coronavirus, which has killed tens of thousands and sickened more than a million others across several continents."

. . . "In the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus publicly emerged in December, the end to a monthslong lockdown has residents taking baby steps toward some version of normality. In Italy, where the next viral wave has killed more than 17,000, a delayed but committed resolve to stay inside has greatly decreased the rate of contagion."

"And in the United States, the death toll, now growing by well over a thousand a day, has continued to mount, with the last few days the country’s deadliest so far in this pandemic. Yet Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Wednesday on Fox News that he was starting to see 'some glimmers of hope,' so much so that he expected that previous projections of 100,000 to 200,000 virus-related deaths would be lowered."

"Even in New York City, now the ghastly epicenter where hundreds continue to die every day, officials cite a slowdown in hospitalizations as evidence that social distancing and other modifications — not least the shutdown of the city’s vibrancy and economy — are working."

"'We are flattening the curve,' Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said on Wednesday, a day when the state reported more than 700 deaths. 'Thank God. Thank God. Thank. God.'"

--- Dr. Fauci on the downgraded projections: "Although one of the original models projected 100,000 to 200,000 deaths, as we're getting more data and seeing the positive effect of mitigation, those numbers are going to be downgraded," the nation's leading epidemiologist said on Fox News. "I don't know exactly what the numbers are going to be, but right now it looks like it's going to be less than the original projection."

"Although I’m always very conservative in my cautious optimism, I think we’re going to start to see soon—within the next week or so—kind of a plateauing out and a turning around,” he added in an interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association. "We’ve got to be cautiously optimistic not be overconfident. But I think we’re going to start seeing that."

--- President Trump at his Wednesday briefing: "If we could stay substantially under [a death toll of 100,000], which was the original projection, I think we all did a very good job – even though it’s a lot of people."

--- Latest stats: As of 10 a.m. Eastern Time, nearly 1.5 million cases and almost 90,000 deaths from the coronavirus have been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. In the United States, 432,554 cases have been confirmed as the reported death toll nears 15,000.

Additionally, the Labor Department announced this morning that 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the four-week total to more than 17 million.

"Janet L. Yellen, one of the world’s top economists, said U.S. unemployment rate has jumped to at least 12 or 13 percent already, the worst level of joblessness the nation has seen since the Great Depression," the Washington Post reported.


President Donald Trump will have lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at 12:30 p.m. and participate in a phone call with mental health leaders and advocates at 2:30 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence will participate in calls with Senate Republicans (at 11 a.m.) and Democrats (at 1 p.m.) on coronavirus response, join President Trump for his 2:30 p.m. phone call with mental health leaders and advocates, and lead a White House Coronavirus Task Force meeting at 3 p.m.

The White House Coronavirus Task Force will hold a press briefing at 5 p.m.

The Senate will meet for a pro forma session at 10 a.m.

Although business is not traditionally conducted during such sessions, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said he will ask for unanimous consent to pass more funding for small business loans; Democrats are expected to to object and propose an alternative, which Republicans will object to in turn.

The House is not in session.

The Supreme Court has no conferences or oral arguments scheduled.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has no events scheduled.

*All times Eastern

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