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Basketball Hall of Famer and Georgetown Hoyas head coach Patrick Ewing is at home after being hospitalized for the coronavirus.
Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush voiced strong concerns over the NCAA's recent support of a player endorsement plan, saying that paying college athletes who don't have the proper guidance is "going to destroy some people."
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said he likes the idea of a change to the Rooney Rule that rewards teams for hiring minority candidates.
Carl Crawford reflected on the recent drowning deaths of two people at his Houston home, writing on Instagram that his heart was "heavy" over the tragedy.
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Joe Biden made his first in-person appearance in more than two months on Monday as he marked Memorial Day by laying a wreath at a veterans park near his Delaware home.
Since abruptly canceling a March 10 rally in Cleveland at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has waged much of his campaign from his home in Wilmington. When Biden emerged on Monday, he wore a face mask, in contrast to President Donald Trump, who has refused to cover his face in public as health officials suggest.
Biden and his wife, Jill, laid a wreath of white flowers tied with a white bow, and bowed their heads in silence at the park. He saluted. “Never forget the sacrifices that these men and women made,” he said after. “Never, ever, forget.”
“I feel great to be out here,” Biden told reporters, his words muffled through his black cloth mask. His visit to the park was unannounced and there was no crowd waiting for him.
But Biden briefly greeted a county official and another man, both wearing face masks and standing a few feet away. Biden also yelled to another, larger group standing nearby, “Thank you for your service.” His campaign says Biden has gone to the park for Memorial Day often in the past, though services were canceled Monday in the pandemic.
Though low-key, the appearance was a milestone in a presidential campaign that has largely been frozen by the coronavirus outbreak. While the feasibility of traditional events such as rallies and the presidential conventions are in doubt, Biden’s emergence suggests he won’t spend the nearly five months that remain until the election entirely at home.
Trump, eager to project a country coming to life even as the pandemic’s death toll approached 100,000, presided over back-to-back events at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia and Fort McHenry in Baltimore.
After a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington, Trump mourned the fallen in remarks at the Baltimore historic site and praised the contribution of service members “on the front lines of our war against this terrible virus.”
The coronavirus has upended virtually all aspects of American life and changed the terms of the election. Trump’s argument that he deserves another term in office because of the strong economy has evaporated as unemployment rises to levels not seen since the Great Depression.
As a longtime senator and former vice president, Biden is trying to position himself as someone with the experience and empathy to lead the country out of a crisis. Trump counters that he is the leader who can preside over an economic rebound later this year or in 2021.
Biden has adjusted to the coronavirus era by building a television studio in his home, which he’s used to make appearances on news programs, late-night shows and virtual campaign events. Some of those efforts have been marred by technical glitches and other awkward moments.
Some Democratic strategists have openly worried that Biden is ceding too much ground to Trump by staying home. The president himself has knocked Biden for essentially campaigning from his basement.
Biden’s advisers say they plan to return to normal campaign activities at some point, including travel to battleground states. But they’re in no hurry, preferring to defer to the advice of health experts and authorities’ stay-at-home and social distancing recommendations.
At 77, Biden is among the nation’s senior population thought to be especially vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus — though so is Trump, who turns 74 next month.
“We will never make any choices that put our staff or voters in harm’s way,” Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said recently, adding that the campaign would resume more traditional activities “when safety allows, and we will not do that a day sooner.”
Trump has not resumed the large rallies that were the hallmark of his 2016 campaign and presidency but has begun traveling outside Washington in recent weeks. He visited a facility producing face masks in Arizona and a Ford plant in Michigan that has been converted to produce medical and protective equipment.
Trump even played golf at his club in Virginia on the weekend, hoping that others will follow his lead and return to some semblance of normal life and gradually help revive an economy in free fall.
It was the president’s first trip to one of his money-making properties since March 8, when he visited his private golf club in West Palm Beach. The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic on March 11, and Trump followed with the national emergency declaration two days later.
Biden’s campaign wasted little time producing an online video offering blurry, faraway footage of Trump on the golf course, imposed over images evoking the virus ravaging the nation as the number of Americans dead from the pandemic approached 100,000. The video concluded by proclaiming: “The death toll is still rising. The president is playing golf.”
Trump spent Memorial Dayvisiting Arlington National Cemetery and the Fort McHenry national monument in Baltimore, to be followed by a trip to Florida’s coast on Wednesday to watch to U.S. astronauts blast into orbit.
Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”
President Donald Trump threatened Monday to pull the Republican National Convention out of North Carolina if the state’s Democratic governor doesn’t immediately sign off on allowing a full-capacity gathering in August despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Trump’s tweets about the upcoming RNC in Charlotte come two days after North Carolina’s largest daily increase in virus cases yet.
On Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper moved the state into a second reopening phase by loosening restrictions on hair salons, barbers and restaurants. But he said the state must move cautiously, and he kept indoor entertainment venues, gyms and bars closed.
“Unfortunately, Democrat Governor, @RoyCooperNC is still in Shutdown mood & unable to guarantee that by August we will be allowed… full attendance in the Arena,” Trump tweeted Monday.
He added that Republicans “must be immediately given an answer by the Governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied. If not, we will be reluctantly forced…to find, with all of the jobs and economic development it brings, another Republican National Convention site.”
Pre-pandemic, the GOP had estimated 50,000 would come to Charlotte for the convention centered around its NBA arena.
Cooper’s office responded that state officials are working with the GOP on convention decisions.
“State health officials are working with the RNC and will review its plans as they make decisions about how to hold the convention in Charlotte,” Cooper spokeswoman Dory MacMillan said in an email. “North Carolina is relying on data and science to protect our state’s public health and safety.”
Vice President Mike Pence said Monday on Fox News Channel that convention planning takes months and suggested a state that’s loosened more restrictions could host. He praised reopenings in Texas, Florida and Georgia — all states with Republican governors.
Calling Trump’s remarks “a very reasonable request,” Pence told Fox that “having a sense now is absolutely essential because of the immense preparations that are involved, and we look forward to working with Governor Cooper, getting a swift response and, if needs be, if needs be, moving the national convention to a state that is farther along on reopening and can say with confidence that we can gather there.”
Changing sites would be difficult for reasons including the contract between GOP officials and Charlotte leaders to hold the convention there. In April, the City Council voted to accept a $50 million federal grant for convention security. Before the vote, City Attorney Patrick Baker noted the overall contract requires parties to follow applicable laws and regulations, including Cooper’s executive orders. Cooper’s current order limits indoor gatherings to 10 people. Baker said then that GOP officials had discussed convention alternatives but did not elaborate.
A week ago, Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel vowed on a call with reporters that the convention slated for Aug. 24-27 would be held at least partly in person.
During a subsequent Charlotte-area visit, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar sounded less certain when discussing convention preparations. He did not refer to a traditional in-person convention as a certainty, but rather noted that “we’re several months away from the possibility of the RNC.” Azar also praised Cooper’s reopening moves.
The state reported nearly 24,000 positive cases Monday, a daily increase of about 740. On Saturday, the state reported 1,100 new cases, its biggest daily jump. Monday’s state tally includes about 750 deaths and 600 current hospitalizations.
Before Monday, Cooper and Trump had displayed little friction during the pandemic. While Cooper has urged the federal government to provide more testing supplies and protective gear, he’s avoided criticizing Trump by name. Trump, meanwhile, has largely refrained from calling out Cooper as he has other Democratic governors.
Cooper narrowly beat an incumbent Republican in 2016 while Trump won the state. In this year’s gubernatorial election, Cooper faces Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who has urged a faster reopening of businesses.
___ Follow Drew at www.twitter.com/JonathanLDrew
Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.
China demanded Monday that Washington withdraw export sanctions imposed on Chinese companies in the latest round of a worsening conflict over technology, security and human rights.
The foreign ministry accused the Trump administration of interfering in China’s affairs by adding eight companies accused of playing roles in a crackdown in its Muslim northwestern region of Xinjiang to an export blacklist.
Washington also imposed controls on access to American technology for 24 companies and government-linked entities it said might be involved in obtaining goods with potential military uses.
The U.S. decision “violated basic norms of international relations” and “harmed China ’s interests,” said a ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian.
“We urge the United States to correct its mistakes, revoke the relevant decision and stop interfering in China’s internal affairs,” Zhao said.
The measures announced Friday expands a U.S. campaign against Chinese companies including tech giant Huawei that Washington says might be security threats.
Beijing criticized curbs imposed earlier on Huawei Technologies Ltd. and other companies including Hikvision Digital Technology Ltd., a supplier of video security products. It has yet to say whether it will retaliate.
One company cited Friday in connection with Xinjiang is accused of “engaging in human rights violations,” the Commerce Department said. The rest are accused of “enabling China’s high-technology surveillance” in the region.
One of the technology suppliers, CloudWalk Technology Ltd., which makes facial recognition systems, said in a statement such “unfair treatment”will hurt American companies and global development.
China’s fledgling tech industries are developing their own processor chips, software and other products. But they need U.S., European and Japanese components and technology for smartphones and other devices, as well as for manufacturing processes.
The company accused of human rights violations, Aksu Huafu Textiles Co., said in a statement the U.S. decision “recklessly disregards facts.” The company said it won’t be affected because any American materials can be replaced by Chinese sources.
Other companies didn’t respond Monday to questions about how they might be affected.
The decision to add the companies to the Commerce Department’s Entity List limits their access to U.S. components and technology by requiring government permission for exports.
American officials complain Beijing’s technology development is based at least in part on stolen foreign know-how and might erode U.S. industrial leadership or threaten the security of its neighbors.
Complaints about Beijing’s technology ambitions prompted President Donald Trump to raise duties on Chinese imports in 2018, triggering a tariff war that weighs on global trade. The two governments signed a truce in January but Trump has threatened to back out if China fails to buy more American exports.
Other companies cited Friday “represent a significant risk of supporting procurement of items for military end-use in China,” the Commerce Department said.
The most prominent name on that list is Qihoo 360, a major supplier of anti-virus software and a web browser.
On its social media account, Qihoo 360 accused the Commerce Department of “politicizing business” and commercial research and development.
Companies including Huawei that were targeted by earlier U.S. sanctions deny they are a threat. Chinese officials accuse Washington of using phony security warnings to block rising competitors of U.S. tech industries.
Another blacklisted company, CloudMinds Technology Co., a maker of internet-linked robots, said all its products “are designed for civilian use.” It appealed to the U.S. government on its social media account to “stop this unfair treatment.”
When President Donald Trump doesn’t like the message, he shoots the messenger.
So it was this past week when he took very personally a scientific study that should give pause to anyone thinking of following Trump’s lead and ingesting a potentially risky drug for the coronavirus. He branded the study’s researchers, financed in part by his own administration, his “enemy.”
Boastful on the occasion of Memorial Day, Trump exaggerated some of his accomplishments for veterans’ health care. Over the weekend, he also repeated a baseless allegation of rampant mail-in voting fraud and resurrected claims of unspecified conspiracies against him in 2016.
A look at the rhetoric and reality as the pandemic’s death toll approached 100,000 in the U.S.:
TRUMP: “The United States cannot have all Mail In Ballots. It will be the greatest Rigged Election in history. People grab them from mailboxes, print thousands of forgeries and ‘force’ people to sign. Also, forge names. Some absentee OK, when necessary. Trying to use Covid for this Scam!” — tweet Sunday.
THE FACTS: Voting fraud is rare.
It’s true that some election studies have shown a slightly higher incidence of mail-in voting fraud compared with in-person voting, but the overall risk is extremely low. The Brennan Center for Justice said in 2017 the risk of voting fraud is 0.00004% to 0.0009%.
“Trump is simply wrong about mail-in balloting raising a ‘tremendous’ potential for fraud,” Richard L. Hasen, an elections expert at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, recently wrote in an op-ed. “While certain pockets of the country have seen their share of absentee-ballot scandals, problems are extremely rare in the five states that rely primarily on vote-by-mail, including the heavily Republican state of Utah.”
Trump’s push for in-person voting runs counter to the current guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which urge Americans to maintain 6 feet (1.8 meters) of separation and avoid crowds.
The CDC guidelines “encourage mail-in methods of voting if allowed in the jurisdiction,” given the coronavirus threat. Last week, Trump threatened to “hold up” funding for Michigan and Nevada if they allowed more residents to cast mail-in or absentee ballots out of pandemic safety concerns. He later backed off the threat.
Trump cast an absentee ballot by mail in the Florida Republican primary in March.
A commission Trump convened after the 2016 election to investigate potential voting fraud disbanded without producing any findings.
TRUMP, on the 2016 election: “I’m fighting the deep state. I’m fighting the swamp. … They never thought I was going to win, and then I won. And then they tried to get me out. That was the ‘insurance policy.’ She’s going to win, but just in case she doesn’t win we have an insurance policy.” — interview aired Sunday on “Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson.”
THE FACTS: He’s repeating a false claim that there was a conspiracy afoot to take him out if he won the 2016 presidential race, based on a text message between two FBI employees.
Trump has repeatedly depicted the two as referring to a plot — or insurance policy — to oust him from office if he beat Democrat Hillary Clinton. It’s apparent from the text that it wasn’t that.
Agent Peter Strzok and lawyer Lisa Page, both now gone from the bureau, said the text messages reflected a debate about how aggressively the FBI should investigate Trump and his campaign when expectations at the time were that he would lose anyway.
Strzok texted about something Page had said to the FBI’s deputy director, to the effect that “there’s no way he gets elected.” But Strzok argued that the FBI should not assume Clinton would win: “I’m afraid we can’t take that risk.” He likened the situation to “an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.” He has said he was not discussing a post-election plot to drive Trump from office.
TRUMP, on why he considers hydroxychloroquine safe for the treatment of COVID-19: “Frankly, I’ve heard tremendous reports. Many people think it saved their lives.” — interview with Attkisson.
TRUMP: “I’ve received a lot of positive letters and it seems to have an impact. And maybe it does; maybe it doesn’t. But if it doesn’t, you’re not going to get sick or die. This is a pill that’s been used for a long time — for 30, 40 years on the malaria and on lupus too, and even on arthritis.” — remarks on May 18.
TRUMP: “It doesn’t hurt people.” — remarks Tuesday after a GOP policy lunch.
THE FACTS: He’s wrong to assert there is no risk of harm if people take the malaria drug to try to prevent a coronavirus infection. Trump’s own health agencies have cautioned that taking hydroxychloroquine to stave off the virus could be dangerous due to side effects. If the president is to be believed, he’s taking the drug himself.
Trump repeatedly has pushed hydroxychloroquine, with or without the antibiotic azithromycin. No large, rigorous studies have found them safe or effective for COVID-19, and they can cause heart rhythm problems and other serious side effects. The Food and Drug Administration has warned against the drug combination and said hydroxychloroquine should only be used for the coronavirus in hospitals and research settings.
Two large observational studies, each involving about 1,400 patients in New York, recently found no benefit from hydroxychloroquine. Two new ones in the journal BMJ, one by French researchers and the other from China, reached the same conclusion.
On Friday, a study published by the journal Lancet suggested that hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, with or without an antibiotic, did not help hospitalized patients and was tied to a greater risk of death or heart rhythm problems. Although it was observational rather than a rigorous test, it’s by far the largest so far to examine these drugs in real-world settings — nearly 100,000 patients in 671 hospitals on six continents. Researchers estimated that the death rate attributable to use of the drugs, with or without an antibiotic such as azithromycin, is roughly 13% versus 9% for patients not taking them.
The drug has been available for decades to treat the mosquito-borne illness malaria; it is also prescribed for some lupus and arthritis patients.
Technically, doctors can already prescribe the drug to patients with COVID-19, a practice known as off-label prescribing. But that is not the same as the FDA approving the drug specifically for the pandemic, which would mean it had met the agency’s standards for safety and effectiveness.
FDA regulators issued a warning alert last month in part based on increased reports of dangerous side effects called in to U.S. poison control centers.
TRUMP: “You know we got the Veterans Choice.” — remarks Friday at veterans’ event.
TRUMP: “We’ve done the greatest job maybe of anything in the VA, because I got VA Choice … approved.” — remarks on May 18.
THE FACTS: False. He didn’t get Veterans Choice approved; President Barack Obama did in 2014. Trump expanded it, under a 2018 law known as the MISSION Act.
TRUMP: “Choice is when they wait for two months to see a doctor … they go outside, they get themselves a good doctor, we pay the bill, and they get taken care of.” — remarks Friday at veterans’ event.
THE FACTS: His suggestion that veterans no longer have waits for care because of the Choice program is also false.
Since March, the VA actually has halted the program’s key provisions that granted veterans the option to see private doctors if they endured long delays at VA, citing the pandemic. Internal VA emails obtained by The Associated Press reveal that some veterans are being turned away, even when private doctors are available to see them.
The program allows veterans to see a private doctor for primary or mental health care if their VA wait is 20 days (28 for specialty care) or their drive to a VA facility is 30 minutes or more.
But since the program’s expansion in June 2018, the VA has not seen a major increase in veterans seeking private care. Two months ago, after the coronavirus outbreak, the VA also took the step of restricting veterans’ access to private doctors, citing the added risks of infection and limited capacity at private hospitals.
Under the temporary guidelines, the VA is reviewing referrals for nonemergency care “on a case-by-case basis for immediate clinical need and with regard to the safety of the veteran when being seen in-person, regardless of wait time or drive time eligibility,” according to VA spokeswoman Christina Noel. The department has boosted telehealth appointments and says VA referrals for private care will be made where it is “deemed safe” and private doctors are available.
Veterans’ organizations and internal VA emails suggest the department is painting an overly rosy picture of health care access.
“We have community facilities open and able to see patients; however, our Veterans are being denied community care granted under criteria of the MISSION Act,” one VA employee wrote in a May 14 email to Tammy Czarnecki, an assistant deputy undersecretary for health operations at VA.
The employee works in a rural region that covers Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and Oklahoma, where private doctors are often key to filling gaps in VA care. The person said veterans were being told by their local VAs they may need to wait “well past July, August or September” for private care, according to the email, which was provided to the AP on condition the sender not be identified.
Czarnecki’s office replied by referring the employee to the VA guidance that set forth the restrictions due to a pandemic.
The VA on Thursday said referrals had increased in the employee’s city during the pandemic. It did not provide figures.
The VA, which announced this past week it would start returning to more normal operations, hasn’t said when it will remove its temporary restrictions on Choice.
Marchione, AP’s chief medical writer, reported from Milwaukee. Associated Press writer Eric Tucker contributed to this report.
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President Donald Trump honored America’s fallen service members on Monday as he commemorated Memorial Day in back-to-back appearances in the midst of the pandemic.
“Together we will vanquish the virus and America will rise from this crisis to new and even greater heights,” Trump said during a ceremony at Baltimore’s historic Fort McHenry. “No obstacle, no challenge and no threat is a match for the sheer determination of the American people.”
Earlier, Trump silently honored the nation’s war dead at a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, which like Fort McHenry is currently off limits to the public because of the pandemic. Presidents on Memorial Day typically lay a wreath and speak at the hallowed burial ground in Virginia. But the coronavirus crisis, soon to claim its 100,000th life in the U.S., made this year different.
Many attendees arrived wearing masks but removed them for the outdoor ceremony in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Trump, maskless as always in public, gave no remarks. He approached a wreath already in place, touching it and giving a salute.
Trump then traveled to Baltimore, to the chagrin of the city’s mayor, and noted that tens of thousands of service members and national guard personnel are currently “on the front lines of our war against this terrible virus.”
The U.S. leads the world with more than 1.6 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 97,000 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Trump said brave warriors from the nation’s past have shown that “in America, we are the captains of our own fate.”
The Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is where a poem, written after a huge American flag was hoisted to celebrate an important victory over the British during the War of 1812, became “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The fort is closed to the public because of the pandemic.
Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young objected to Trump’s visit, saying it sends the wrong message about stay-at-home directives and the city cannot afford the added cost of hosting him when it is losing $20 million a month because of the pandemic.
But Trump is intent on accelerating his schedule as he portrays the country as returning to its pre-pandemic ways. This month, Trump has toured factories in Arizona, Pennsylvaniaand Michiganthat make pandemic supplies. He plans to be in Floridaon Wednesday to watch two NASA astronauts rocket into space, and he played golf at his private club in Virginia on Saturday and Sunday.
Young, a Democrat, last week cited the disproportionate effect the virus has had on his city and called on Trump to “set a positive example” by not traveling during the holiday weekend. “That President Trump is deciding to pursue nonessential travel sends the wrong message to our residents,” he said.
The White House sounded unmoved.
“The brave men and women who have preserved our freedoms for generations did not stay home and the president will not either as he honors their sacrifice by visiting such a historic landmark in our nation’s history,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in an emailed statement Sunday.
Trump last summer described a congressional district that includes Baltimore as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.” He visited Baltimore months later to address a meeting of congressional Republicans, and a giant inflatable rat adorned with Trump-style hair and a red necktie taunted him from a few blocks away. Trump did not visit any Baltimore neighborhoods.
He was visiting on Monday just over a week after Maryland began to lift some of the restrictions it had put in place for the coronavirus, though they remain in effect in Baltimore. Baltimore and the Washington area have the nation’s highest percentages of positive cases, according to Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force.
Associated Press writer Jill Colvin in Arlington, Virginia, contributed to this report.
Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap.
Joe Biden worked out deals with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. He defended Vice President Mike Pence as a “decent guy” and eulogized Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain’s “fairness, honesty, dignity, respect.”
When he launched his presidential campaign, such overtures to Republicans were central to Biden’s promise to “unify the country” and “restore the soul of the nation” after defeating President Donald Trump.
Now that he’s the presumptive Democratic nominee, Biden is sharpening his tone, still pitching consensus but touting a “bold agenda” aimed at mollifying progressives who remain skeptical he’ll deliver enough on health care, student loan debts and the climate crisis.
The idea is to avoid repeating the party’s 2016 defeat, when Hillary Clinton struggled to unite her moderate supporters and backers of Bernie Sanders. The dynamics are different in 2020, with Democrats united in their antipathy toward Trump. But Biden’s juggling of the left wing along with mainstream Democrats and independents and Republicans disgruntled with Trump could end up as an unsuccessful attempt to be all things to all people.
“It certainly seems like the approach that they’re taking right now is trying to have it both ways,” said Evan Weber, a co-founder of the Sunrise Movement, a climate action youth organization that is among the political groups working with the Biden campaign on policy proposals.
For younger voters, Weber added, “Going too far in the direction of trying to appeal to a moderate narrative or a bipartisan era that most people in our generation have never experienced … is not going to inspire a lot of confidence.”
Republican pollster Whit Ayres countered that Biden’s “sweet spot” is the center-left.
“You’ve got to run on who you are,” Ayres said. “If he becomes a politician of the left, it’s going to hurt his ability to consolidate the 54% of Americans who voted for someone other than Donald Trump in 2016.”
Biden deflects the risks. Asked whether his recent moves mean he’ll govern as a “progressive,” Biden retorted on CNBC: “I’m going to be Joe Biden. Look at my record.”
Recent interviews and campaign events reveal the nuances Biden hopes can attract support in both directions. “I think health care is a right, not a privilege,” he said on CNBC, espousing an article of faith for the left. But, he added, “I do not support Medicare for All ” single-payer insurance.
Biden embraces some key principles of the Green New Deal sweeping climate plan as paths to “tens of millions of new jobs” but casts as impossible some progressives’ goal of zeroing out carbon pollution over a decade. He’s reaffirmed that he wants Republicans’ 2017 tax cuts repealed for the wealthiest individuals and corporations. But he prefers a 28% corporate tax rate – still lower than what it was before the cuts – and he’s not embraced a “wealth tax” on the fortunes of the richest Americans. He opposes the Keystone XL pipeline while stopping short of backing an outright ban on fracking.
The coronavirus pandemic has influenced Biden’s thinking, as well.
Once a senator who championed a balanced budget amendment, he’s aligned with congressional Democrats pushing trillions of dollars in aid for states, local governments, business and individuals. And, adopting the tenor of erstwhile rivals like Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Biden has intensified his calls to rebuild the economy to reflect progressive values, including stamping out income inequalities baked into the pre-pandemic system.
Biden aides say he’s uniquely positioned for a wide “Biden coalition” because voters prioritize experience and temperament, along with policy. The campaign defines his coalition as young, African Americans and Latinos, as well as suburban, college-educated whites, women and those disaffected by Trump.
“We do not have to make a choice between one group or another group in terms of how we are going to win this,” Biden’s campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said on a recent strategy call.
Campaign co-chairman Cedric Richmond said Biden can stitch together otherwise irreconcilable parts of the electorate for one reason: Trump.
“We have a president now with no discernible political philosophy other than what benefits him,” said Richmond, a Louisiana congressman. “Even people who are not as progressive (as Biden) and people who are more progressive at least like the consistency of knowing what a person believes in.”
Anti-Trump conservatives offer similar sentiments.
“We are living right now … with the damage that can be done when a president is elected and thinks that he only has to answer to his base,” said Jennifer Horn of the Lincoln Project, which has produced online ads to help thwart Trump’s reelection.
Even if Biden prevails in November, governing might prove tougher.
Republicans who dislike Trump – the kind who cut deals with Sen. Biden or Vice President Biden – aren’t likely to back President Biden’s proposed “public option” health insurance expansion when they’ve never embraced the Affordable Care Act.
The same goes for tax hikes and mega-spending energy packages the fossil fuel industry opposes. And within Biden’s personal base, labor unions whose jobs are anchored in existing energy markets haven’t embraced the sweeping alternatives.
During the primary, Biden told skeptics in his own party he’d work with Republicans “without compromising our values,” but work to “beat them” in the 2022 midterms if that failed.
Meanwhile, Weber, the Sunrise activist, argued that despite Biden’s embrace of some progressive priorities, “It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.”
Tim Miller, a former spokesman for Republican Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign and a steadfast member of the GOP’s “Never Trump” faction, said more 2016 voters in decisive battleground states shunned both Trump and Clinton for center-right alternatives in Libertarian Gary Johnson or Independent Evan McMullen than Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Winning back just that cohort back could be enough to secure Biden to the presidency alone this cycle, he said.
“I do think that there’s a concern that if he oversteps, overemphasizes a pivot to the left that could turn off certain voters who are gettable for him,” Miller said. “That’s going to be a continued tightrope through November.”
Barrow reported from Atlanta.
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