2020 Campaign
August 12, 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), the presumptive Democratic vice presidential nominee, made their first public appearance together as running mates Wednesday, just a day after the Biden campaign announced her selection.

In his introduction, Biden lauded Harris' integrity and credentials, saying he has "no doubt that I picked the right person to join me." But he also found the time to take a shot at President Trump in the process.

It didn't take long for Trump to insult Harris after Tuesday's announcement. When asked about the pick, he called her "the meanest" and "most horrible" senator, taking particular issue with her questioning of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his dramatic confirmation hearing.

But Trump's words left Biden chuckling. The former vice president said "whining" is what the commander-in-chief "does best," and asked, rhetorically, if anyone was "surprised Donald Trump has a problem with a strong woman" like his running mate. Tim O'Donnell

August 10, 2020

President Trump said Monday he has narrowed his options for the site of his presidential nomination acceptance speech, which would normally be given at the site of the Republican convention, but will be relocated because of the coronavirus pandemic. The two finalists — the White House and the Gettysburg Battlefield — will surely spark controversy for various reasons, including the possibility they may be illegal.

Trump had touted the White House as a possible site for the speech last week, noting that it would save the government on travel expenses. Even some Republicans were wary of the idea, citing the Hatch Act, which limits political work while on the job in an official federal capacity. Trump, as president, is exempt from the law, but White House staffers who would theoretically work the event aren't, The Associated Press reports. Giving the speech at Gettysburg is seemingly less blatant, but it is federal property, as well.

Per AP, few federal workers face any penalties for violating the Hatch Act, but if Trump does give his speech at one of the two sites, it will likely raise questions. Tim O'Donnell

August 10, 2020

A group of prominent Black male leaders, including several athletes and celebrities, signed a Monday open letter calling on former Vice President Joe Biden to select a Black woman as his running mate. The list includes names like Sean "Diddy Combs," Chris Paul, Kam Chancellor, Van Jones, Nick Cannon, and Bakari Sellers.

The letter is quite clear in its intent, stating that choosing one of the several Black women the Biden campaign is considering as vice president is no longer something that "should" happen, but an imperative. Otherwise, the statement warns Biden, "you will lose the election" to President Trump in November. The signees said they "don't want to vote for the lesser of two evils" or the "devil we know versus the devil we don't."

Additionally, the letter takes issue with the scrutiny some of the women on Biden's shortlist, like Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), have faced throughout the process, stating it "disgusts" the signatories that the candidates are the subject of unfair criticism. Tim O'Donnell

August 8, 2020

President Trump's allies are growing worried about his re-election chances, Politico reports, with one Republican close to the White House comparing the situation to the 1993 film Groundhog Day. "You think it's better, then it's not," the official told Politico.

One incident that probably won't allay their concerns is a recent phone conversation between Trump and GOP megadonor and Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, per Politico. Adelson reportedly called Trump last week to discuss the coronavirus relief bill and the economy, but Trump eventually turned the conversation to the campaign and asked Adelson why he wasn't doing more to help, three people with direct knowledge of the call told Politico.

One of the sources said it became clear Trump wasn't aware of the extent to which Adelson — whom Politico describes as a financial linchpin who has donated tens of millions of dollars to pro-Trump efforts — has poured in resources for the president. Adelson reportedly didn't fire back at Trump, and his allies say it's unclear if the phone call will dissuade him from working to bolster Trump's campaign during the home stretch. But Republican Party officials were reportedly alarmed by the incident and rushed to smooth things over. Read more at Politico. Tim O'Donnell

August 4, 2020

President Trump's re-election chances are in trouble and at least one White House official is blaming the people around him, Politico reports.

Trump's decline in popularity began in March right around the time White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows took on the role and began building a new White House team. That timing also coincided with the coronavirus pandemic, which certainly has played a major, if not singular, role in turning the tide of public opinion, but some Trump aides believe Meadows' arrival isn't insignificant, per Politico.

"I don't think his newest team is serving him well," a White House official told Politico. "In fact, it's worse than ever. They came in thinking they know best, and they've not bothered to understand the president of the West Wing."

The official said Meadows' team consists of "Kool-Aid drinkers," who may not be giving the commander-in-chief "the whole picture," which is something the official said Trump has never wanted from his staff. Read more at Politico. Tim O'Donnell

August 3, 2020

President Trump's new campaign manager Bill Stepien on Monday expressed concern about voters receiving their mail ballots as early as late September, echoing GOP strategists who believe Trump is operating on an accelerated timeline to regain momentum before Election Day on Nov. 3.

Stepien wants to counter the expected nationwide surge in mail-in voting by holding more debates, but that likely wouldn't fix another potential looming problem for his campaign that may be, in part, Trump's own doing. Per The Washington Post, Trump's repeated attacks on mail-in voting, which he argues will lead to mass voter fraud, is discouraging Republicans from utilizing the practice and could threaten party turnout. A Monmouth University poll taken in July found that 60 percent of Democrats would at least consider voting by mail, compared to just 28 percent of Republicans.

In any other year, that might not be such a big deal. Sure, weather and forgetfulness could always prevent someone from going to the polls on Election Day, Politico notes, but the threat of a coronavirus outbreak is looming over this year's election and could keep more people at home than usual, which is partly why Democrats are pushing for more mail-in voting.

Republican strategists are hoping Trump rolls back some of his criticism, or at least makes it more specific, going forward, so Republicans don't refuse to vote absentee if they need to. "It is a problem," one GOP strategist in North Carolina told the Post. "The president has oversimplified the issue to criticize the method of voting, rather than the way it's done." Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

July 28, 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and his campaign team are playing it cool for now even as some Democrats are calling for bolstered efforts to potentially win in Georgia and Texas. But it doesn't sound like the latter will ever get much consideration, The Washington Post reports.

"Texas is 22 [expletive] media markets," one Biden adviser told the Post. "That is never going to happen. It's just not going to happen. Everyone knows that. I don't know why people are still even talking about it."

Georgia, though, has more potential to be flipped blue, and the adviser admitted the campaign will eventually have to make a decision on whether to invest resources there. "Georgia is real," the adviser said.

Still, the adviser said that choice won't be made until "we feel really comfortable about the six core states" — Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, North Carolina, and Florida — adding that there's "plenty of time" to get more involved in Georgia. Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

July 27, 2020

With fewer than 100 days until November's general election, the polls aren't looking good for President Trump. Still, The Atlantic's Peter Nicholas noted there's a chance the economy could bounce back by the fall; the presumptive Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, could fail to inspire a strong turnout; or polling could simply be off the mark. Real Clear Politics election analyst Sean Trende, similarly argues that, while he considers a Trump victory unlikely, the president isn't too "far off where he needs to be" to get back in the race.

Ultimately, Trende thinks Trump probably has to make up about six points to catch Biden. Candidates have overcome worse odds than that in modern history, including George H.W. Bush, who trailed his Democratic opponent Michael Dukakis by 17 points in July. Trende and others don't think the '88 election is a great comparison for a variety of reasons, including the idea that Biden's lead has been defined more by its stability.

But either way, Trump has a smaller amount of ground to cover, and Trende points to his approval rating as an indicator that it's at least possible he can. In Trende's view, Trump seems to have bottomed out at 42 percent, which suggests he can't win. But there's also a chance the current spikes in coronavirus cases will begin their descent, potentially allowing Trump to gain an extra bump to get back to 45 percent approval, which Trende has pegged as the target number for a competitive election. Tim O'Donnell

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