2020 Daily Trail Markers: Biden-Harris Democratic ticket is official
Joe Biden announced he has chosen California Senator Kamala Harris to be his running mate heading into November’s presidential election, adding his former rival for the Democratic nomination to the ticket, CBS News campaign reporters Bo Erickson,Tim Perry and political correspondent Ed O’Keefe report. The Biden campaign made the announcement in a text message to supporters on Tuesday. “Joe Biden here. Big news: I’ve chosen Kamala Harris as my running mate. Together, with you, we’re going to beat Trump,” the message said, adding a link to Biden’s campaign website.
Biden’s last in-person rally before the COVID-19 pandemic was with Harris in Detroit on March 9. The Biden campaign announced the pair will reunite and make their first appearance together as a ticket on Wednesday in Delaware. CBS News spotted campaign production companies, campaign staff and Secret Service enter Hotel Du Pont in downtown Wilmington on Tuesday, seemingly to prepare for the pair’s remarks. This is the same place Biden announced his first Senate run in 1972.
Biden’s campaign is citing Harris’ friendship with the late Beau Biden as one reason for the decision. “From hearing about Kamala from Beau, to seeing her fight for others directly, Joe has long been impressed by how tough Kamala is,” the campaign wrote. By embracing her toughness, the campaign is already intrinsically addressing the scuffle between the senator and the former vice president last June at the first Democratic primary debate. At that time, Harris questioned Biden’s record over race and stance on busing. Top Biden allies were miffed for months but by the time Harris ended her presidential bid in December, Biden wished her all the best and said her capability is seemingly limitless. “Senator Harris has the capacity to be anything she wants to be. I mean it sincerely,” Biden said at the time. “She is solid. She can be president someday herself. She can be the vice president. She can go on to be a Supreme Court justice. She can be an attorney general. I mean, she has enormous capability.” Nine months later, Biden made at least one of those jobs a little more realistic.
FROM THE CANDIDATES
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP
President Trump called Harris his “number one draft pick,” following his Democratic rival’s running mate announcement. “I was a little surprised that he picked her,” the president said during his White House briefing late Tuesday afternoon. “I’ve been watching her for a long time and I was a little surprised.” CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga says Mr. Trump criticized Harris for her “nasty” grilling of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during the Senate confirmation hearings and berated her performance in the democratic primaries. Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign also targeted Harris on Tuesday, labeling her “Phony Kamala” only minutes after the California lawmaker was named as Biden’s running mate. “Not long ago, Kamala Harris called Joe Biden a racist and asked for an apology she never received,” Katrina Pierson, Trump 2020 senior advisor, claimed in a statement. “Clearly, Phony Kamala will abandon her own morals, as well as try to bury her record as a prosecutor, in order to appease the anti-police extremists controlling the Democrat Party.” During a Democratic primary debate in June 2019, Harris criticized Biden over his record on busing, but added during the exchange, “I do not believe you are a racist, and I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground.” Moments after Biden’s announcement, Mr. Trump tweeted a 30-second video produced by the Trump campaign, taking aim at the new Biden-Harris ticket. “Voters rejected Harris. They smartly spotted a phony. But not Joe Biden. He’s not that smart,” the video narration reads, in part. In a text message to supporters, the Trump campaign fundraised off Biden’s new VP pick Tuesday evening. But before Mr. Trump found himself running against Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the 2020 general election, Mr. Trump was once a donor to their past campaigns, CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice reports. Records show Trump once made a $1,000 donation to Biden back while he was a Senator in 2001. Mr. Trump also donated to Harris including $5,000 the year she became California Attorney General and another $1,000 in 2013.
Meanwhile Vice President Mike Pence said Biden and the Democratic Party “have been overtaken by the Radical Left,” and that “it’s no surprise he chose Senator Harris to be his running mate.” Pence congratulated Harris on being the VP pick and said “I’ll see you in Salt Lake City,” referring to the vice presidential debate that will be held there in October. Pence said he heard about Harris being selected as the VP pick while on his way to Mesa, Arizona for the launch of “Latter-day Saints for Trump” coalition. Earlier in the day, CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar says Pence held a “Cops for Trump” event in Tucson, Arizona, to accept the endorsement of the Arizona Association of Police. What looked, sounded and felt like a campaign event was not advised by the Trump campaign and instead Pence’s office released his schedule for the day. That schedule also included the launch of the “Latter-day Saints for Trump” coalition in Mesa as well as a meeting with Governor Doug Ducey on COVID-19. Pence told the crowd in Tucson, that he’s visiting Arizona “because we will soon come to a time for choosing.” Pence then laid out the different paths President Trump and Joe Biden offer on the economy, environment, taxes, law enforcement and claimed once again that Americans won’t be “safe” if Biden is in the White House. Pence, citing recent crime numbers in Chicago, New York City, and Washington D.C., said “we must restore law and order to the streets of our communities for every American of every race and creed and color.” Pence also likened law enforcement officers to first responders and healthcare workers who have been putting their lives at risk during the coronavirus pandemic to save others. “In these challenging times, none have done more to save American lives than our heroic healthcare workers, first responders, and the men and women of law enforcement,” Pence said. “You stood in the gap in the midst of a pandemic and for that you have the thanks and the admiration of the American people,” he added.
Michelle Obama released a new public service announcement Tuesday to raise awareness about safe voting options and combat voter suppression in the upcoming general election, reports CBS News correspondent Nikole Killion. “From the ongoing pandemic, to the passion and protest we’ve seen for racial and social justice, it’s clear that we’re in the middle of a big moment in this country,” the former First Lady said in a new video. “Our job between now and November is to make sure everyone we know understands that the power to make change rests on our ability to cast a vote.” Obama said her non-partisan organization, When We All Vote, is working to expand vote-by-mail, in person early voting and online voter registration. The organization also launched a “Voter Resources Hub” and a “Know Your Rights” page last week to help eligible voters check their registration status, locate their polling station and research candidates and ballot initiatives. “Let’s get more folks across the country, trained with the tools, the resources and the information they’ll need to vote, because this election couldn’t be more important,” Obama said.
CBS NEWS COVID CHRONICLES
CBS News is chronicling what has changed for the lives of Americans in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic. In this latest issue, CBS News campaign reporters Musadiq Bidar and Jack Turman report the Big Ten conference has voted to cancel the upcoming college football season this fall with the hope to start the season in the spring. “The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.” In Columbus, home to the Ohio State University Buckeyes, restaurants and bars are bracing for the economic fallout this fall. Tony Mollica, the manager at Varsity Club, which is one of the oldest bars in the area, said that revenue projections for the next few months are “ugly” with less foot traffic and a less crowded stadium in Columbus. “We’ve been here 60 years and we’ve weathered every storm,” Mollica said. Tony Allen, general manager at Ethyl & Tank, another restaurant and bar, said their restaurant will be prioritizing socially distant outdoor seating, but acknowledged that game day in Columbus is irreplaceable. “Obviously you can’t replace game day at Ohio State,” Allen said. “But we can still give them a fun experience, something that’ll be good for them, they can come with their friends, still hang out. It’s fun for everybody and still safe.”
The Democratic National Convention Committee has unveiled its list of primetime speakers for the convention next week, rolling out a lineup that unites the party’s progressive wings with the Democratic establishment, writes CBS News digital reporter Melissa Quinn.The Democratic National Convention is set to kick off August 17 and will feature four nights of speakers who will address supporters remotely from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Nightly keynote speeches will be given by Michelle Obama on Monday, Jill Biden on Tuesday and Barack Obama on Wednesday. On Thursday, Joe Biden will formally accept his party’s presidential nomination with a speech Thursday. CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson says Biden’s newly announced running mate, Kamala Harris, has a slot to speak on Wednesday ahead of former President Obama.
In 2016, the Supreme Court vacancy opened by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia spurred conservatives to vote for Donald Trump, a celebrity businessman who made the judicial appointment central to his campaign. But this election, Mr. Trump and conservatives won’t be alone in staking the future of the high court on November 3, since progressive groups are also making it a mobilizing issue, albeit for Democratic voters. “There’s an understanding this year like I haven’t seen in the past that the Supreme Court is on the ballot,” Jen Psaki, former White House communications director under President Obama, told CBS News. “Republicans have always known that, but we’ve seen in polls that Democrats and progressives are really starting to understand that and be motivated.” A Morning Consult/Politico poll released Wednesday found that 57% of Democratic voters said the Supreme Court was “very important” in deciding which candidate to vote for in the presidential election, an increase from 48% in early May. Among Republican voters, 53% said the high court was “very important” in choosing who to support in November, which is unchanged from May. The poll was conducted after the high court closed out its blockbuster term with rulings on abortion restrictions, workplace protections for LGBTQ workers, immigration and efforts to secure Mr. Trump’s tax returns and business records. And the court has still been active this summer, weighing in on cases involving voting rights and restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Chris Kang, chief counsel for Demand Justice, a progressive judicial advocacy group that is leading the effort to make the court a key factor for Democratic voters, said voting rights disputes could help motivate liberal voters to turn out. “What has been the dominant theme of the Roberts Court has been a hostility to voting rights, especially when it comes to people of color,” Kang told CBS News digital reporter Melissa Quinn. “This isn’t something the Supreme Court is going to avoid.” It’s also not lost on Democrats that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is the anchor of the bench’s liberal wing, has been plagued by health issues and disclosed last month that she has been undergoing treatment for a recurrence of cancer after a scan in February revealed lesions on her liver. Her health woes have underscored what seems like a strong possibility that the next president will fill another vacancy. “If you’re looking at a situation where Donald Trump could nominate another Brett Kavanaugh or two Brett Kavanaughs, who are young and party loyalists, I think the connection has been drawn in a more clear way than it has been in the past,” Psaki said. “Democrats need to continue to connect the future of the Supreme Court, the impact of an expanding conservative bloc of the Supreme Court, to the issues that are impacting people in their everyday lives.” Meanwhile, Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has made his own promise when it comes to the Supreme Court: to nominate the first Black woman justice. Progressives are urging Biden to release his own Supreme Court list to galvanize voters, as was the case with conservatives and evangelicals reluctant to back Mr. Trump in 2016. “People understand now in order to take meaningful steps for climate change, we’re going to need a Supreme Court that’s going to uphold those changes. The same with preventing gun violence and reestablishing voting rights,” Kang said. “All these issues driving you to the polls are going to be dependent on the Supreme Court.”
“THE DEBRIEF WITH MAJOR GARRETT”
In the latest episode of “The Debrief with Major Garrett,” CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett explores the questions surrounding schools reopening this fall. Almost nowhere in the country is this a recognizable exercise whether school officials have decided to open schools to in-person learning with precautions like masks or if they are going completely virtual. CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson says the episode features interviews with a variety of voices including education experts, school administrators, and teachers on the hard questions districts are facing. “If we don’t have good public schools open to all, not just to the rich whose parents can afford it, then we are betraying our own heritage and the American dream for tens, hundreds of millions of Americans,” said Zeke Emanuel, vice provost for global initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania. “I think that’s what’s at stake here.”
ON THE $$$
As the election nears, donors are giving. CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice says ActBlue used by Democrats announced it raised $240 million through its platform in July 2020. The sum comes from some 6.2 million donations last month. It was the third-largest month of fundraising in ActBlue’s history in terms of total money raised and number of contributions and the largest month ever by the number of groups to use ActBlue to raise funds. More than half a million donors gave for the first time in July. ActBlue has been used to raise more than $2.5 billion for the 2020 election cycle to date from 11.3 million donors. The average donation is $33. Meanwhile, WinRed which is used by Republicans, announced it raised $164.3 million last month through its platform including $15.7 million in one day. The total comes from more than 3 million donations with the average donation at $51.
Facebook said it removed more than 100,000 posts between March and July of this year for spreading misinformation related to the upcoming presidential election, according to CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar. The social networking company, which has spent the last four years building an operation to combat the spread of false information on its platform and stop election interference, said it will be working with state and local election authorities to quickly respond to and remove false claims about polling conditions in the 72 hours leading to Election Day. Facebook’s Vice President of Integrity, Guy Rosen, told reporters Tuesday morning that the company will soon roll out a “Voting Information Center” that he described as a “one-stop-shop for people to find accurate and authoritative information about the elections.” While Facebook has spent the last four years building up resources to fight the spread of political misinformation on its platform, Rosen said a quarterly Community Standards Enforcement report revealed that the coronavirus continues to impact their content enforcement abilities. In March, all of Facebook’s content moderators began working from home and the company now relies heavily on technology to flag posts that violate policies. “We’re now using artificial intelligence to create a ranking of the most critical content for our teams to review regardless of whether it was reported by users or detected by our proactive systems,” Rosen said. “There will be a shift towards more content being initially actioned by our automated systems,” he added.
Between April and June, Rosen said Facebook took action against 22.2 million posts that included hate speech, an increase from 9.6 million posts in the previous three months. Rosen said 95% of the more than 22 million posts with hate speech were initially flagged by AI. He attributed the increase to an expansion of the automated systems to other languages like Spanish, Arabic, and Indonesian. Similarly, the number of posts related to terrorism that Facebook took action against increased from 6.3 million in the first months of the year to 8.7 million in second quarter. Two areas where Facebook took fewer action was in posts related to suicide and self-injury and child nudity and sexual exploitation content. This is where the company said it felt the impact of COVID-19 and content moderators working from home. Rosen said that Facebook prioritized and took action on the most harmful content, like live videos. “But reviewing this content continues to be challenging. It can’t be done from home due to its very graphic nature,” Rosen said. “We want to ensure it’s reviewed in a more controlled environment and that is why we started bringing a small number of reviewers, where it is safe, back into the office,” he added.
Facebook has also been combating the spread of misinformation on the coronavirus. From April through June the company removed over 7 million pieces of COVID-19 related information that it deemed harmful on Facebook and Instagram. Rosen described these posts as ones that pushed “fake preventative measures or exaggerated cures that CDC and other health experts tell us are dangerous.” Facebook has also been working with independent fact checkers to display warning labels on posts. From April through June, Rosen said Facebook put labels on about 98 million pieces of COVID-19 related misinformation on its platform.
In one of the latest campaign efforts to target seniors in Florida, the Biden campaign released a 30-second ad titled “Takeover” on Tuesday, taking swipes at the president for signing an executive order that would cut social security funds and annually slash “hundreds of billions of dollars” from the social security trust fund. “Nearly 4 million Florida seniors rely on social security, and once again Donald Trump’s failed leadership is hitting seniors the hardest.” CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell notes that this ad comes nearly a month after the Democratic party released their “Wolves” ad — which ran in parts of Florida — that highlighted “tens of thousands of older Americans” having died from the coronavirus due to the president’s mishandling of the pandemic. In an op-ed published in the Tampa Bay Times Tuesday, Biden doubled down on his criticism of the president’s social security cuts by telling the story of a Florida couple that has felt “trapped” during the pandemic. “Last week, instead of rising to the moment, President Trump just added more economic strain and stress to Donna, Roger and seniors and communities across Florida,” wrote Biden in the op-ed. “Instead of bringing Congress together to provide economic relief for families affected by the coronavirus, like a president should do, he went to his golf club in New Jersey and issued several executive actions that do more harm than good. It was almost as if he gave his team the assignment of designing proposals that would hurt the people of Florida.”
Wisconsin is holding its second election during the coronavirus pandemic and through the early afternoon, things look quite different compared to April, reports CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster. Far fewer people are expected to vote in Wisconsin’s August primary, which includes congressional and state legislative primaries, than the April election, and with more polling locations open than in the spring, there are few lines. Milwaukee opened 168 polling sites on Tuesday, compared to just 5 in April. City of Milwaukee Election Commission executive director Claire Woodall-Vogg said in-person voting was off to a slow start Tuesday morning. At Washington High School of Information Technology in Milwaukee, some voters trickled into the polling site for part of the morning. That included Camille Mays, 43, who said she came to vote in person because her absentee ballot never arrived even though she says she requested absentee ballots for the rest of the year back in April. “Nothing will stop me from voting,” Mays told CBS News. While she said she was “very angry” about not getting her absentee ballot, Mays is going to try to vote absentee again in November. Several clerks told CBS News that they hadn’t been alerted to widespread issues of ballots not arriving leading up to the election, like what happened to hundreds of voters in April. In suburban Waukesha, Annette Vertz, 81, came to the polls on Tuesday, but voted absentee back in April. She plans to return to the polls in November as long as they’re open. “I just think that there is a lot of chance of it being lost, the mail is slowing down, we don’t have enough workers,” Vertz said. While there have been some people showing up at polling sites, a large number of votes this election are from absentee ballots. As of Tuesday morning, the Wisconsin Elections Commission reported that 554,340 absentee ballots had been returned of 896,300 that were sent to voters. In 2018, 106,663 absentee ballots were returned during the August primary. In Milwaukee, about 45,000 people had returned absentee ballots as of this morning, compared to about 7,500 people who usually vote absentee in the August primary, Woodall-Vogg said.
Also in Wisconsin today, a new Marquette University Law School poll shows presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden leading President Donald Trump, according to Brewster. Biden leads Trump by 5 points among likely voters, 49% to 44%. Biden led Trump 50% to 44% among likely voters back in June. President Trump saw his approval rating slip from 45% to 44% in the poll as well, with 54% saying they disapprove of the job he’s doing. That’s his lowest approval rating since January 2019 in the poll. The poll also found an interesting split among voters who prefer to vote by mail. Among those who plan to vote absentee by mail, 81% say they’ll support Biden while 14% say they’ll back Trump. Biden also leads with people planning to vote early with in-person absentee voting, 50% to 45%. People planning to vote on Election Day back Trump by a 67% to 26% margin, though. Wisconsin doesn’t let clerks begin processing absentee ballots until Election Day, meaning those votes will likely take longer to count and show up in the reported results.
IN THE HOUSE
A slew of ads from House Democrat candidates were released Tuesday, reports CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro. A majority of them were introductory bio ads, meant to introduce the story and background of a candidate, not yet focusing on a single policy issue. New Jersey Congressman Andy Kim, an incumbent that released an ad on Tuesday, highlighted his family and his service in the military. Gina Ortiz Jones in Texas’ 23rd also talked about her background in the Air Force. Jones does not yet have a defined general election opponent in her race for Congressman Will Hurd’s open seat. The recount between Republicans Tony Gonzales and Raul Reyes Jr. began Tuesday morning and is expected to last a week.
In Illinois’ 13th, Democrat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan focused on healthcare in her latest ad, a continuation of her 2018 messaging against incumbent Republican Rodney Davis. At the end of her ad, Londrigan makes an emphasis of criticizing prescription drug and insurance companies. “They’ve given millions to Washington politicians to vote their way on healthcare,” she says, adding that “corporate special interests can’t buy me. I don’t take their money.” Davis’ campaign immediately claimed this was a false narrative, pointing to a WCIA story showing she had accepted “at least $82,930 in campaign contributions from corporate lobbyists. “Betsy Londrigan is taking her ‘no corporate money’ lie to the airwaves because she knows this race is moving away from her. Her hypocrisy is stunning,” Davis campaign spokesperson Aaron DeGroot said in a statement. In response, Londrigan’s campaign reiterated she has committed to not take corporate PAC money specifically, in this campaign or when she’s in Congress. “Unlike Congressman Davis who has taken more than $200,000 from pharmaceutical and insurance corporate PACs while voting against lowering prescription drug costs and to repeal protections for people with pre-existing conditions,” campaign spokesperson Eliza Glezer told Navarro.
Republican challenger Sean Parnell in Pennsylvania’s 17th district also released an ad on Tuesday. It’s mainly focused on comments made by a spokesperson of incumbent Democrat Conor Lamb’s campaign, in which he quotes a tweet that read “Burn in hell and die” and says “Can add @SeanParnellUSA here.” In the add, referencing his service in the military, Parnell asks, “I’m used to the Taliban wishing for my death, but a fellow American?” Lamb’s campaign told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the Tweet was misinterpreted, but added, “We think everyone from the President on down to Conor’s brother should think more, tweet less, and be nicer to each other.”