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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Post-Primary

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well under  way.   The Democratic nomination contest has now ended.

Stephen Ohlemacher and Bill Barrow at  Associated Press
Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden has agreed to let former primary rival Bernie Sanders keep hundreds of delegates he would otherwise forfeit by dropping out of the presidential race in a deal designed to avoid the bitter feelings that marred the party in 2016 and helped lead to Hillary Clinton's defeat.
Under party rules, Sanders should lose about a third of the delegates he’s won in primaries and caucuses as the process moves ahead and states select the people who will attend the Democratic National Convention. The rules say those delegates should be Biden supporters, as he is the only candidate still actively seeking the party’s nomination.

However, in a memo obtained by The Associated Press, the Biden campaign says it will work with Sanders and state parties to fill those positions with Sanders supporters. The joint memo from the Biden and Sanders campaigns was being sent to state Democratic parties on Thursday.

“We must defeat Donald Trump this fall, and we believe that this agreement will help bring the party together to get Trump out of the White House and not only rebuild America, but transform it,” the two campaigns said in a joint statement.

In some ways, the delegate count is a moot point. While Biden has yet to formally win the 1,991 delegates needed to claim the Democratic nomination on the first ballot at the convention, he is the Democrats' presumptive nominee. All of his rivals — including Sanders — have endorsed him after ending their own campaigns.

The deal, however, is a major step in the two camps avoiding the acrimony between the Democratic establishment and progressive insurgents that marked Sanders' 2016 primary fight with Clinton, the eventual nominee. In that campaign, Clinton and Sanders battled for delegates until the end of the primary calendar and then jousted over the party platform and rules well into the summer.
Why is Biden so eager to make concessions?  Rebecca Morin at USA Today:
Bernie Sanders may have endorsed Joe Biden, but almost a quarter of the Vermont senator’s supporters aren’t jumping on board just yet, according to a new poll.
Nearly 1 in 4 Sanders supporters (22%) said they would vote for a third party candidate, vote for President Donald Trump, not vote in November or were undecided about who to vote for, according to a USA TODAY/Suffolk Poll. When broken down, 2% said they would vote for Trump, 8% said they would vote for a third party candidate, 2% said they would skip voting and 8% are still undecided.
However, the vast majority of Sanders supporters (77%) said they will vote for Biden in the general election in November.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020


In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well under  way.   

Remarks by President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Members of the Coronavirus Task Force in Press Briefing: April 27, 2020.
Q    Maryland and other states — Governor Larry Hogan specifically said they’ve seen a spike in people using disinfectant after your comments last week.  I know you said they were sarcastic, but do you take any —
THE PRESIDENT:  I can’t imagine why.  I can’t imagine why.  Yeah.
Q    Do you yeah take any responsibility if someone were to die?
THE PRESIDENT:  No, I don’t.  No, I can’t imagine — I can’t imagine that.
 Katie Rogers and Annie Karni at NYT:
The daily White House coronavirus task force briefing is the one portion of the day that Mr. Trump looks forward to, although even Republicans say that the two hours of political attacks, grievances and falsehoods by the president are hurting him politically.

Mr. Trump will hear none of it. Aides say he views them as prime-time shows that are the best substitute for the rallies he can no longer attend but craves.

Mr. Trump rarely attends the task force meetings that precede the briefings, and he typically does not prepare before he steps in front of the cameras. He is often seeing the final version of the day’s main talking points that aides have prepared for him for the first time although aides said he makes tweaks with a Sharpie just before he reads them live. He hastily plows through them, usually in a monotone, in order to get to the question-and-answer bullying session with reporters that he relishes.
 Kevin Liptak and Kaitlan Collins at CNN:
This week, aides seemed to coalesce around a decision to curtail the daily press briefings, which have become airing grounds for the grievances Trump builds up over the course of the day, starting early in the morning as he watches television in his residence.
Speaking to foreign leaders from the third floor of the White House, Trump has attempted to adopt a statesmanlike air, according to people familiar with the calls. But even there, his complaints about not receiving positive recognition for his efforts have seeped in.
While he almost always attends the daily press briefings, Trump rarely attends the coronavirus task force meetings that precede them. The task force doesn't seem to mind.

President Donald Trump left Friday’s coronavirus task force briefing without taking a single question just a day after stunning medical experts by using the daily briefing to float bizarre and dangerous ideas about possible coronavirus treatments, like injecting disinfectants.

Reporters tried to shout questions at the president to no avail Friday as Trump ended what was an abnormally short briefing. The entire briefing, which featured Trump talking at the start, lasted roughly 20 minutes.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Best People, Continued

 In Defying the Odds, we discuss the people surrounding Trump. (The update -- published in 2019 --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.)
The choice of servants is of no little importance to a prince, and they are good or not according to the discrimination of the prince. And the first opinion which one forms of a prince, and of his understanding, is by observing the men he has around him; and when they are capable and faithful he may always be considered wise, because he has known how to recognize the capable and to keep them faithful. But when they are otherwise one cannot form a good opinion of him, for the prime error which he made was in choosing them.

Andrew Kaczynski, Nathan McDermott and Em Steck, CNN:
The new spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services in a series of now-deleted tweets made racist and derogatory comments about Chinese people, said Democrats wanted the coronavirus to kill millions of people and accused the media of intentionally creating panic around the pandemic to hurt President Donald Trump.
Michael Caputo, a longtime New York Republican political operative who worked on Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, was appointed last week as Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at HHS, a prominent communications role at the department which serves a central role in the federal government's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Caputo, a prolific user who often tweeted insults and profanity, recently erased nearly his entire Twitter history from before April 12. CNN's KFile used the Internet Archive's "The Wayback Machine" to review more than 1300 deleted tweets and retweets from late February to early April many of which were regarding the rapidly spreading coronavirus.
While he occasionally weighed in with praise for public officials or more straightforward observations, tweets from this period are also littered with conspiracy theories and controversial language to go after perceived critics of the Trump administration.

In a series of tweets on March 12, Caputo responded to a baseless conspiracy theory that the United States brought the coronavirus to Wuhan, China, by tweeting that "millions of Chinese suck the blood out of rabid bats as an appetizer and eat the ass out of anteaters."
He followed up at another user, "Don't you have a bat to eat?" and tweeted at another user, "You're very convincing, Wang."

Ben Fox at AP:
The senior Department of Homeland Security official who was thrust into the spotlight by President Donald Trump to describe the effects of temperature on COVID-19 has been the subject of misconduct allegations for his previous government work.

A Department of Energy Inspector General investigation was still pending Friday based on evidence submitted by a whistle-blower that William Bryan abused his government position with energy consulting work in Ukraine.

It’s unclear if Trump was aware of that investigation when he called on Bryan at his daily briefing Thursday to explain DHS research that prompted a presidential riff on the potential to cure the virus with disinfectant and kill it with sunlight.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Coronavirus Enters Red America

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well under  way.   

William H. Frey at Brookings:
There is a stereotypical view of the places in America that COVID-19 has affected most: they are broadly urban, comprised predominantly of racial minorities, and strongly vote Democratic. This underlines the public’s perception of what kinds of populations reside in areas highly exposed to the coronavirus, as well as some of the recent political arguments over social distancing measures and the states easing their restrictions.
While that perception of high-prevalence areas was accurate during the earlier stages of the pandemic, COVID-19’s recent spread has changed the picture. During the first three weeks of April, new counties showing a high prevalence of COVID-19 cases are more suburban, whiter, and voted more strongly for Donald Trump than counties the virus hit first. These findings result from a new analysis of counties with high COVID-19 prevalence rates (more than 100 confirmed cases per 100,000 population) based on data available from The New York Times and the U.S. Census Bureau.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

GOP Worry About Hill Races

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race. The update looks at political and demographic trends through the 2018 midterm.  Our next book will explain 2020.

At the New York Times, Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman report that Republicans worry not only about a Trump loss but a Democratic wave on Capitol Hill.
Democrats raised substantially more money than Republicans did in the first quarter in the most pivotal congressional races, according to recent campaign finance reports. And while Mr. Trump is well ahead in money compared with the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democratic donors are only beginning to focus on the general election, and several super PACs plan to spend heavily on behalf of him and the party.
The surveys also showed Republican senators in Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina and Maine trailing or locked in a dead heat with potential Democratic rivals — in part because their fate is linked to Mr. Trump’s job performance. If incumbents in those states lose, and Republicans pick up only the Senate seat in Alabama, Democrats would take control of the chamber should Mr. Biden win the presidency.
Most of the incumbent House Democrats facing competitive races enjoy a vast financial advantage over Republican challengers, who are struggling to garner attention as the virus overwhelms news coverage.

Still, few officials in either party believed the House was in play this year. There was also similar skepticism about the Senate. Then the virus struck and fund-raising reports covering the first three months of this year were released in mid-April.

Republican senators facing difficult races were not only all outraised by Democrats, they were also overwhelmed.
In Maine, for example, Senator Susan Collins brought in $2.4 million while her little-known rival, the House speaker Sara Gideon, raised more than $7 million. Even more concerning to Republicans is the lesser-known Thom Tillis of North Carolina. Republican officials are especially irritated at Mr. Tillis because he has little small-dollar support and raised only $2.1 million, which was more than doubled by his Democratic opponent.

“These Senate first-quarter fund-raising numbers are a serious wake-up call for the G.O.P.,” said Scott Reed, the top political strategist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Parties and Candidates

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well under  way.  Social media platforms are a big part of the story.

Reid J. Epstein and Shane Goldmacher at NYT:
Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee have agreed to a joint fund-raising accord and installed the Biden campaign’s choice as the D.N.C.’s chief executive, the latest signs that the party’s presumptive presidential nominee has consolidated control over its broader functions.

The new agreement, which party officials said would be made formal on Friday, will allow the former vice president to raise $360,600 from individual donors, with $5,600 going to the Biden campaign and the rest earmarked for the party committee.

At the request of the Biden campaign, Mary Beth Cahill, a D.N.C. senior adviser who briefly served as its interim chief executive in 2018, will take over from Seema Nanda. Ms. Cahill, a longtime operative for the party, served as campaign manager for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. Mr. Kerry is a longtime friend of and 2020 campaign surrogate for Mr. Biden. Ms. Nanda will leave the D.N.C.

The moves come as the Biden campaign exercises greater influence on the national committee, an effort that typically gets underway after a presidential nomination is assured. In the past, that has involved sending a team of aides to the party’s headquarters on South Capitol Street, but the coronavirus restrictions mean the Biden team will take over a party working from home.
Politico Morning Score:
THE REELECT — Different arms of Trumpworld are taking diverging paths forward. "The Republican National Committee has launched a massive effort to reach some 20 million swing voters to make an affirmative case for his performance. But Trump campaign officials are taking a different approach: Rather than devoting resources to boost Trump's numbers, which haven't moved materially since he was elected, they want to go scorched earth against Joe Biden," POLITICO's Alex Isenstadt wrote . "The deliberations illustrate how the highest ranks of the Republican Party are grappling with the uncertainty the coronavirus crisis has injected into the race — and how best to prepare for a general election that looks nothing like what they'd been anticipating."
Some advisers argue "there's little public appetite in a slash-and-burn campaign at a time when Americans are suffering. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Trump adviser and ally, said the president should wait until the late August convention to begin a full-fledged campaign and instead focus on dealing with the crisis. Dealing with it effectively, he contended, would virtually cement Trump's reelection. ... Yet campaign officials see reason to begin nuking Biden, especially as the former vice president ramps up his attacks. Liberal outside groups have spent millions of dollars on TV ads in battleground states going after Trump."

The NRSC Memo: "Don't Defend Trump"

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well under  way.   

Alex Isenstadt at Politico:
The National Republican Senatorial Committee has sent campaigns a detailed, 57-page memo authored by a top Republican strategist advising GOP candidates to address the coronavirus crisis by aggressively attacking China.
The memo includes advice on everything from how to tie Democratic candidates to the Chinese government to how to deal with accusations of racism. It stresses three main lines of assault: That China caused the virus “by covering it up,” that Democrats are “soft on China,” and that Republicans will “push for sanctions on China for its role in spreading this pandemic.”

“Coronavirus was a Chinese hit-and-run followed by a cover-up that cost thousands of lives,” the April 17 memo states.

The document urges candidates to stay relentlessly on message against the country when responding to any questions about the virus. When asked whether the spread of the coronavirus is Trump’s fault, candidates are advised to respond by pivoting to China.
“Don’t defend Trump, other than the China Travel Ban — attack China,” the memo states.
The NRSC memo shows that Republicans are also eager to make China an issue in down-ballot races. It was distributed by the Senate GOP campaign arm, though it was not explicitly drafted by or for the committee. It was authored by the political consulting firm of Brett O’Donnell, a veteran Republican strategist who has advised Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton.
The memo provides a clear, real-time example of how consultants provide talking points and anticipate questions:
Answers To Likely Arguments:
Q: Isn’t this Trump’s fault?
Note - don’t defend Trump, other than the China Travel Ban -- attack China
● This is China’s fault. The virus came from China and China covered it up. Because China lied about the extent of the virus, our public health officials acted late.
● I wish that everyone acted earlier -- that includes our elected officials, the World Health Organization, and the CDC.
● I’m glad that President Trump acted early to ban travel to China -- that’s something my
Democratic opponent did not support and that Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi criticized as
xenophobic and racist.
Q: Aren’t you being racist by blaming China and causing racist attacks against Chinese Americans?
● No one is blaming Chinese Americans. This is the fault of the Chinese Communist Party for covering up the virus and lying about it’s danger. This caused the pandemic and they should be held accountable.
● And no one has suffered more from the murderous Communist Chinese Party dictatorship than the people of China. We stand with them against their corrupt government that caused this pandemic.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

The President Who Needed Warning Labels

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well under  way.   

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday cautioned against the use of hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug originally approved in 1955, to treat Covid-19 outside of the hospital or in the setting of a clinical trial. The drug has been repeatedly touted by President Trump as a potential treatment.
In a drug safety communication meant for health care providers, the FDA said it is “aware of reports of serious heart rhythm problems” in patients with Covid-19 treated with hydroxychloroquine or an older drug, chloroquine. The agency said it seeks to “remind health care professionals and patients of the known risks associated with both hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine.”
Diana Bradley at PR Week:
Clorox, Lysol and even Tide Pods were trending on social media after President Donald Trump suggested people could possibly protect themselves from coronavirus by injecting disinfectant.

The social media chatter led Lysol and Dettol parent RB to quickly release a statement before anyone takes what Trump says literally.
“Due to recent speculation and social media activity, RB (the makers of Lysol and Dettol) has been asked whether internal administration of disinfectants may be appropriate for investigation or use as a treatment for coronavirus,” the company said. “As a global leader in health and hygiene products, we must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body ...
Trump did not name any particular disinfectant brands, but this is what he said on Thursday night during the White House coronavirus press briefing: "I see the disinfectant that knocks [coronavirus] out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning? As you see, it gets in the lungs, it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that."
Food and Drug Administration chief Dr. Stephen Hahn is also getting word out to protect consumers.
He told CNN's Anderson Cooper, "I certainly wouldn't recommend the internal ingestion of a disinfectant."
At a bill signing, Trump claimed that his remark was a sarcastic comment that he directed at a reporter -- even though he tone was serious.  (He used the same dodge for his "Russia, if you're listening" comment in 2016.)
Q    But just to clarify — just to clarify that, sir: Are you — are you encouraging Amer- — you’re not encouraging Americans to ingest —
THE PRESIDENT:  No, of course — no.  Of course.
Q    — disinfectant?
THE PRESIDENT:  That was — interior wise, it’s said sarcastically.  It was — it was put in the form of a question to a group of extraordinarily hostile people, namely the fake news media.
Okay.  So —
Q    Some doctors felt they needed to clarify that after your comments.
THE PRESIDENT:  Well, of course.  All they had to do was see it was — just, you know, the way it was asked.  I was — I was looking at you.
Q    No, you weren’t, sir.  I wasn’t there yesterday.  (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT:  I know.  I know.
Q    You were looking at Dr. Birx.
THE PRESIDENT:  What’s that?
Q    You were looking at Dr. Birx.
THE PRESIDENT:  I was looking at Bill.  I was looking at the doctor.  I was looking at some of the reporters.  I don’t know if you were there.  Were you there?  I don’t think you were there.
Q    I was there, and I watched you ask her.
THE PRESIDENT:  No, not you.  Not you.  Not you.  You were there.  You — if you’re there, I never forget.  You were —
Q    I wasn’t there yesterday, sir.
THE PRESIDENT:  You were not?
Q    No, sir.
THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, I didn’t think you were there.
Q    Just, Mr. President — Mr. President, I know that you continue to say — you’re obviously —
THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, hold it one second.
Q    Yeah.
THE PRESIDENT:  Any other questions from any other people?
Okay, thank you very much, everybody.  Thank you.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Trump Owed China

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well under  way.   

Marc Caputo, Meridith McGraw and Anita Kumar at Politico:
Donald Trump is warning “China will own the United States” if Joe Biden is elected president.

But Trump himself has taken on debt from China. In 2012, his real estate partner refinanced one of Trump’s most prized New York buildings for almost $1 billion. The debt included $211 million from the state-owned Bank of China — its first loan of this kind in the U.S. — which matures in the middle of what could be Trump’s second term.

Steps from Trump Tower in Manhattan, the 43-story 1290 Avenue of the Americas skyscraper spans an entire city block. Trump owns a 30 percent stake in the property valued at more than $1 billion, making it one of the priciest addresses in his portfolio, according to his financial disclosures.
Trump’s ownership of the building received a smattering of attention before and after his 2016 campaign. But the arrangement with the Bank of China in 2012 has gone largely unnoticed. The questions surrounding Trump’s ties to the Bank of China come as his campaign is claiming that Biden would be a gift to the Communist country and America’s chief economic rival.
After the first version of this article was published, the Bank of China issued a statement Friday evening stating that it sold its debt on the building weeks after the 2012 loan on the property. Vornado Realty Trust owns 70 percent of the building.
“On November 7, 2012 several financial institutions including the Bank of China participated in a commercial mortgage loan of $950 million to Vornado Realty Trust,” said Peter Reisman, managing director and chief communications officer of Bank of China U.S.A. “Within 22 days, the loan was securitized and sold into the [commercial mortgage-backed securities] market, as is a common practice in the industry. Bank of China has not had any ownership interest in that loan since late November 2012.”
Another public document, however, lists Bank of China as a creditor on 1290 Avenue of the Americas even after the bank said it was no longer involved in the property. Filed in 2017 with the New York City Department of Finance Office of the Register, it lists the Bank of China as a secured party having a financial interest in the building’s fixtures.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

As the Death Toll Nears 50,000...

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well under  way.  

Coronavirus presents unprecedented challenges to public policy and the electoral process.

Michael Shear and Maggie Haberman at NYT:
The official who led the federal agency involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine said on Wednesday that he was removed from his post after he pressed for rigorous vetting of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug embraced by President Trump as a coronavirus treatment, and that the administration had put “politics and cronyism ahead of science.”

Rick Bright was abruptly dismissed this week as the director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, and removed as the deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response. He was given a narrower job at the National Institutes of Health.

In a scorching statement, Dr. Bright, who received a Ph.D. in immunology and molecular pathogenesis from Emory University, assailed the leadership at the health department, saying he was pressured to direct money toward hydroxychloroquine, one of several “potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections” and repeatedly described by the president as a potential “game changer” in the fight against the virus.

“I believe this transfer was in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the Covid-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit,” he said in his statement. “I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science — not politics or cronyism — has to lead the way.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Senate Committee Backs Intelligence Community on Russian Interference

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign  The update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  Russia is likely to make a similar effort this year.

A Tuesday release from the Senate Intelligence Committee:
Today, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) released a new report, titled “Review of the Intelligence Community Assessment,” the fourth and penultimate volume in the Committee’s bipartisan Russia investigation.
Key Findings:

The Committee finds the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) presents a coherent and well-constructed intelligence basis for the case that Russia engaged in an attempt to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The Committee concludes that all analytic lines are supported with all-source intelligence, that the ICA reflects proper analytic tradecraft, and that differing levels of confidence on one analytic judgment are justified and properly represented. Additionally, interviews with those who drafted and prepared the ICA affirmed that analysts were under no political pressure to reach specific conclusions.
The Committee finds that the ICA reflects a proper representation of the intelligence collected and that this body of evidence supports the substance and body of the ICA. While the Intelligence Community did not include information provided by Christopher Steele in the body of the ICA or to support any of its analytical judgments, it did include a summary of this material in an annex —largely at the insistence of FBI’s senior leadership. A broader discussion of the Steele dossier will be included in the final volume of the Committee’s report.

The Committee finds that the ICA makes a clear argument that the manner and aggressiveness of Russia’s election interference was unprecedented. However, the ICA does not include substantial representation of Russia’s interference attempts in 2008 and 2012.
From the report (p. 47):
The Committee found that specific intelligence as well as open source assessments support the assessment that President Putin approved and directed aspects of this influence campaign. Further, a body of reporting, to include different intelligence disciplines, open source reporting on Russian leadership policy preferences, and Russian media content, showed that
Moscow sought to denigrate then-candidate Clinton.

Previous reports:

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The Bad Politics of LIBERATE

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well under  way.   

In some states (e.g., California), the lieutenant governor is little more than a cipher.  In Texas, however, the office holds great power. Among other things, its occupant gets to appoint committee chairs in the State senate.

Andrew Romano at Yahoo:
An overwhelming majority of Americans, Republicans included, are rejecting right-wing protests — encouraged by President Trump — to immediately “reopen” the country in the midst of the world’s largest and deadliest coronavirus outbreak, according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll.
The survey, conducted April 17 to April 19, found that a full 60 percent of the public opposes the largely pro-Trump protesters whose calls for governors to “liberate” their states by lifting lockdown measures have attracted intense media attention in recent days — and whose message the president amplified Friday in a series of all-caps “LIBERATE” tweets about three swing states: Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia.
Only 22 percent of Americans say they support the protesters. Despite Trump’s messaging, even Republicans oppose the protests 47 percent to 36 percent. Asked whether they agree or disagree with Trump’s “LIBERATE” tweets, only a quarter of Americans say they agree.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Anti-Quarantine Protests

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well under  way.   

Isaac Stanley-Becker and Tony Romm at The Washington Post:
A trio of far-right, pro-gun provocateurs is behind some of the largest Facebook groups calling for anti-quarantine protests around the country, offering the latest illustration that some seemingly organic demonstrations are being engineered by a network of conservative activists.

The Facebook groups target Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York, and they appear to be the work of Ben Dorr, the political director of a group called “Minnesota Gun Rights,” and his siblings, Christopher and Aaron. By Sunday, the groups had roughly 200,000 members combined, and they continued to expand quickly, days after President Trump endorsed such protests by suggesting citizens should “liberate” their states.

The Dorr brothers manage a slew of pro-gun groups across a wide range of states, from Iowa to Minnesota to New York, and seek primarily to discredit organizations like the National Rifle Association as being too compromising on gun safety. Minnesota Gun Rights, for instance, describes itself as the state’s “no-compromise gun rights organization.”

The online activity instigated by the brothers helps cement the impression that opposition to the restrictions is more widespread than polling suggests. Nearly 70 percent of Republicans said they supported a national stay-at-home order, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll. Ninety-five percent of Democrats backed such a measure in the survey.
Remarks by President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Members of the Coronavirus Task Force in Press Briefing, April 20, 2020
Q Mr. President, thank you very much. If there were groups of people planning to protest tomorrow against the government shutdown, what would be your advice?

THE PRESIDENT: Against the shutdown? 
Q Well, yeah. That they want the shutdown lifted. Should they go ahead if it’s in —

THE PRESIDENT: They want it lifted? Yeah.

Q — a state where there haven’t been 14 days —

THE PRESIDENT: Please. I don’t have any advice. People feel that way. You’re allowed to protest. I mean, they — they feel that way.

I watched a protest and they were all six feet apart. I mean, it was a very orderly group of people. But, you know, some — some have gone too far. Some governors have gone too far. Some of the things that happened are maybe not so appropriate.

And I think, in the end, it’s not going to matter because we’re starting to open up our states. And I think they’re going to open up very well. We’re going to be watching it. We’re going to be watching it very closely. We’re working with them on testing. We’re working with them on whatever they need. I don’t think they need ventilators anymore.

I believe the term the governor used was “phenomenal.” We’ve done a phenomenal job. That was the term that — that was the only sentence they left out, which is okay. But I — I appreciate that that’s what Governor Cuomo said. But we have — they’ve done a phenomenal — these people have done a phenomenal job.

As far as protesters — you know, I see protesters for all sorts of things. And I’m with everybody. I’m with everybody.
Q You know, these — you referred to these protests earlier. You know, some of them are getting pretty intense and were actually getting some death threats to some governors who are reluctant to reopen.

THE PRESIDENT: You are, in the media?

Q No, the governors are getting death threats. You know, governors of Kentucky, Michigan, Virginia. They’re getting increased level of death threats. And are you concerned that your talk about liberation and the Second Amendment and all this stuff —


Q — are you inciting violence among a few people who are (inaudible)?

THE PRESIDENT: I’ve seen the people. I’ve seen interviews of the people. These are great people. Look, they want to get — they call it “cabin fever.” You’ve heard the term. They’ve got cabin fever. They want to get back. They want their life back. Their life was taken away from them.

And, you know, they learned a lot during this period. They learned to do things differently than they have in the past, and, you know, they’ll do it hopefully until the virus has passed. And when the virus passes, I hope we’re going to be sitting next to each other in baseball games, football games, basketball games, ice hockey games. I hope we’re going to be sitting next to each other. I hope you have golf tourn- — the Masters is going to have 100,000 people, not 25 people watching at the course.

Q Are worried about violence though? I mean, some of them (inaudible) threats at them.

THE PRESIDENT: I am not. No, I’m not. I think these people are — I’ve never seen so many American flags. I mean, I’m seeing the same thing that you’re seeing. I don’t see it any differently.

Q There are Nazi flags out there too.

THE PRESIDENT: They are who?

Q Nazis flags.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, that I totally would say, “No way.” But I’ve seen — I didn’t see that. I see all — of course, I’m sure the news plays that up. I’ve seen American flags all over the place. I have never seen so many American flags at a rally as I have at these rallies. These people love our country. They want to get back to work.