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Wake Up To Politics - August 3, 2020

Wake Up To Politics - August 3, 2020
Wake Up To Politics - August 3, 2020

It’s Monday, August 3, 2020. Election Day is 92 days away. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.

Thank you so much to everyone who has responded to my message last night by donating or filling out the survey. Your generosity and your feedback are incredibly appreciated.

One more announcement: I will be hosting a St. Louis Public Radio live event on the Youth Vote in the 2020 Election this Wednesday at 7 p.m. Central Time. I’ll be joined by two fellow young journalists to discuss political engagement in our generation and I’m really looking forward to the conversation. You can register here for free to tune in.

Biden searches for VP as Trump campaign eyes reboot

Election Day — or, more accurately, Election Week — looms just three months away.

Heading into a crucial month, both the Trump and Biden campaigns are engaged in processes that could help define the remainder of their battle for the White House.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is deep into his search for a running mate: the Democrat is expected to announce his pick next week, after conducting one-on-one interviews with top contenders in the coming days. Due to his age and discomfort on the stump, Biden’s No. 2 is likely to play an outsized role on the campaign trail and (if elected) in the White House, raising the stakes as he nears a decision.

President Donald Trump, on the other hand, is reportedly eyeing a reboot of his languishing re-election campaign. According to the Washington Post, Trump’s aides are hoping for an “August reset” as his new campaign manager conducts an internal review of “strategy, spending and messaging.”

The Trump campaign’s “reset” will begin today with a pair of new ads hitting the airwaves in key battleground states, after taking a temporary pause in advertising last week as part of recently promoted campaign chief Bill Stepien’s strategy reevaluation. The spots, titled “Cards” and “Takeover,” target North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Arizona — four states where early voting will begin in late September or early October.

The focus on these early voting states underlines the growing dilemma for Trump, as he trails Biden by an average of seven percentage points nationally with little time before absentee ballots will start to be cast. “Time is running out on Donald Trump,” Politico declared this morning, adding that he is approaching a “point of no return.”

However, if his aides are planning a “reset,” it seems President Trump may be out of the loop. Despite briefly changing tone on coroanvirus in late July, Trump has since reverted to type, promoting a video with false claims about the pandemic and even suggesting that he could delay the November election. In the latter case, White House aides have been forced to clarify that the administration has no plans to attempt to postpone the election, again distracting from their own re-election messaging. (Trump does not have the authority to postpone an election regardless.)

In fact, the styles in which Trump and Biden have overseen their August undertakings highlight contrasts in how they have run their entire campaigns. While Biden has led his VP search in near-silence, largely remaining in his Delaware home and refraining from commenting, Trump has repeatedly stepped on attempts by advisers to steer his campaign in a new direction or to adopt consistent messaging.

This contrast — Biden’s preference to remain removed from the news cycle and Trump’s yearning to remain enmeshed in it — could explain much of the polling gap that has opened between the two candidates, as voters increasingly express discomfort with the president’s running commentary on the coronavirus and disapproval of his handling of the crisis.

While the Biden campaign has been fastidious about conducting his search for a running mate behind closed doors (again, a contrast to Trump’s public auditions four years ago), leaks have begun dribbling out of the tight-lipped operation in recent days.

A recent Politico report sparked an outcry after revealing comments made by former Sen. Chris Dodd, a member of Biden’s vice presidential search, about California Sen. Kamala Harris’ lack of “remorse” after clashing with Biden on the debate stage. (Biden’s campaign denied that Harris was viewed as disloyal, although according to Bloomberg, some allies have been attempting to provide him with alternatives based on similar concerns.)

Harris is one of several Black women — former national security adviser Susan Rice and California Rep. Karen Bass are two others — who have occupied most of the VP speculation recently, although other candidates such as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth reportedly remain on the shortlist.

Biden’s eventual announcement of his running mate, followed quickly by the (virtual) party conventions will signal a new stage in the general election campaign — and, for Trump, another reminder of the dwindling time he has to stage a turnaround.

The Rundown

The top news stories you need to know.

The coroanvirus pandemic is now “extraordinarily widespread” throughout the United States, White House coronavirus coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx warned on Sunday. The U.S. is experiencing a “new phase” of the virus, she added in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union, emphasizing that both urban and rural areas of the country are seeing outbreaks. As the Midwest joins the South and West in recording a resurgence of cases, the U.S. has now reported more than 4.6 million coronavirus infections. Nearly 155,000 Americans have died from the pandemic.

As the pandemic worsens, Congress is struggling to find consensus on another relief package. The $600 weekly unemployment benefits approved on a bipartisan basis in March expired on Friday, and negotiations over a new fix have stalled. Republicans have offered a $1 trillion package that would partially reinstate the benefits, while Democrats have rejected a short-term fix and called for more expensive legislation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows are expected to meet again today in another attempt to iron out their differences and find an agreement.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella spoke Sunday with President Donald Trump as the company explores a purchase of the Chinese-owned video app TikTok. Trump said Friday that he would move to ban the app in the United States, citing national security concerns, and signaled opposition to a potential deal — but according to Reuters, he has agreed to give Microsoft 45 days to negotiate an acquisition. “Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the President’s concerns,” the company said in a statement. “It is committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury.”


What’s going on in Washington today. (All times Eastern)

President Donald Trump will meet with U.S. tech workers and sign an “Executive Order on Hiring American” at 11:30 a.m. and have lunch with Vice President Mike Pence at 12:30 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence will join President Trump for the executive order signing and for lunch, and then lead a video teleconference with governors at 3 p.m. on COVID-19 response and recovery.

The Senate will convene at 3 p.m. and vote at 5:30 p.m. to advance the nomination of Mark Wesley Menezes to be Deputy Secretary of the Energy. Menezes has served as Under Secretary of Energy since November 2017.

The House is not in session.  

The Supreme Court is on summer recess.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will attend a virtual fundraiser.

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