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On the roster: Biden gaffe tests patience of black supporters – Trump trails badly on handling of crisis – GOP sounds alarm on McSally – Trump: Governors must allow worship services – Pickled vegetables
BIDEN GAFFE TESTS PATIENCE OF BLACK SUPPORTERS
AP: “Joe Biden suggested on Friday that African Americans who back President Donald Trump ‘ain’t black,’ comments that stirred controversy over whether he was being condescending to voters who could decide whether he wins the White House. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee appeared on the Breakfast Club, a radio program that is widely regarded in the black community. The host, Charlamagne Tha God, pressed Biden on reports that he is considering Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who is white, to be vice president… [Biden] then added: ‘If you’ve got a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or for Trump, then you ain’t black.’ … Symone Sanders, a Biden senior adviser who is also black, said his comment in Friday’s interview was ‘made in jest.’ ‘Let’s be clear about what the VP was saying,’ Sanders tweeted. ‘He was making the distinction that he would put his record with the African American community up against Trump’s any day. Period.’”
Radio host says he wants results, not talk from Biden – Mediaite: “Charlamagne replied, ‘It don’t have nothing to do with Trump. It has to do with the fact that I want something for my community.’ Biden said his record in that area was ‘second to none.’ In a statement to Mediaite, Charlamagne said his response stood on its own. ‘We have been loyal to Democrats for a long time, black people have invested a lot into that party and the return on investment has not been great,’ he wrote. ‘As Biden said in our brief interview when I asked him if Dems owe the black community ABSOLUTELY was his answer. So let’s see what you got!!! Votes are Quid Pro Quo. You can’t possibly want me to Fear Trump MORE than I want something for my people.’”
Trump campaign calls Biden’s line ‘dehumanizing’ – Bloomberg: “‘It is clear now more than ever, following these racist and dehumanizing remarks, that Joe Biden believes black men and women are incapable of being independent or free thinking,’ Katrina Pierson, a Trump campaign senior adviser, said in a statement issued by ‘Black Voices for Trump.’ ‘Frankly I would love to have a policy contrast with Joe Biden and President Trump on the things that we’ve been able to accomplish,’ [South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott] said in a conference call he and Pierson held with reporters. On Thursday, during a visit to a Ford plant that makes ventilators, Trump praised Henry Ford, who was openly racist and anti-Semitic. Trump said Ford has ‘good bloodlines, good bloodlines, if you believe in that stuff.’”
Bernie backers not opening wallets for Biden – WSJ: Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has yet to unlock a key part of the party’s fundraising base less than six months before Election Day: Bernie Sanders’s army of online small donors, a Wall Street Journal analysis found. About 60,000 people who gave to the Vermont senator during the Democratic primary had also chipped in to Mr. Biden’s campaign by the end of April, according to the Journal’s analysis of Federal Election Commission data filed this week. That group amounted to just under 3% of the roughly 2.2 million total Sanders donors the Journal identified in public filings.”
Reade’s work as expert witness called into doubt – NYT: “Defense lawyers in California are reviewing criminal cases in which Tara Reade, the former Senate aide who has accused Joseph R. Biden Jr. of sexual assault, served as an expert witness on domestic violence, concerned that she misrepresented her educational credentials in court. Then known as Alexandra McCabe, Ms. Reade testified as a government witness in Monterey County courts for nearly a decade, describing herself as an expert in the dynamics of domestic violence who had counseled hundreds of victims. But lawyers who had faced off against her in court began raising questions about the legitimacy of her testimony, and the verdicts that followed, after news reports this week that Antioch University had disputed her claim of receiving a bachelor’s degree from its Seattle campus.”
Lawyer drops – NY Post: “Joe Biden sex assault accuser Tara Reade and her lawyer have parted ways. Attorney Douglas Wigdor announced the split Friday just weeks after Reade, a former Senate staffer of Biden’s, hired the high-profile sex-harassment lawyer. In a statement, the Manhattan litigator did not provide a reason for the decision but said it had nothing to do with the veracity of Reade’s claims that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Biden assaulted her in the 1990s. ‘Our firm no longer represents Tara Reade. Our decision, made on May 20, is by no means a reflection on whether then-Senator Biden sexually assaulted Ms. Reade,’ Wigdor wrote before defending his former client’s poor treatment in the media.”
THE RULEBOOK: MORE MONEY, MORE PROBLEMS
“The importance of commerce, in the view of revenue alone, must effectually guard it against the enmity of a body which would be continually importuned in its favor, by the urgent calls of public necessity.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 60
TIME OUT: IN MEMORIUM
If the United States of America was the beneficiary of the most advantaged birth of any nation in history, our passage into adulthood more than made up for it in terms of suffering.
Monday is Memorial Day, an opportunity to decorate the graves and remember all those who laid down their lives in defense of this nation, “the last best hope of earth.” It is our duty and privilege as the beneficiaries of their sacrifices.
But the observance began with the memory of the Civil War dead, first among the widows of Confederate soldiers and then taken up by the survivors of the Union side. Initially known as Decoration Day, the holiday came into its current form in 1971.
The first 85 years of our national history was a breathless sprint forward. Our meager forces twice defeated the most powerful empire in the world with minimal casualties, the size of the new nation had more than tripled and our wealth was multiplying even faster. The race was on.
But the unfinished work of our founding – the elimination of slavery – would stop that sprint. What Americans North and South could not know in 1861 was just how painful completing that task would be.
The scope of the slaughter and magnitude of the loss defies even the understanding of the Americans who endured in the great wars of the 20th century. To try to grasp the scale, imagine if almost 8 million Americans today had been killed in a war.
But numbers will not answer in a matter like this one. So, we turn to poetry.
Herman Melville was deeply affected by the war, which had drawn in so many of his friends and relatives. He, too old by then for service, visited the front himself and saw the carnage firsthand.
The battle of Shiloh in April 1862 was the first battle to reveal the magnitude of the horrors to come. A Confederate ambush led to an eventual Union victory that claimed nearly 24,000 dead and wounded in less than two days. The terrible, ravening beast of modern warfare had been loosed on our land.
The story of a frontier church where the casualties from both sides lay dying stirred Melville:
Shiloh: A Requiem
Skimming lightly, wheeling still,
The swallows fly low
Over the field in clouded days,
The forest-field of Shiloh—
Over the field where April rain
Solaced the parched ones stretched in pain
Through the pause of night
That followed the Sunday fight
Around the church of Shiloh—
The church so lone, the log-built one,
That echoed to many a parting groan
And natural prayer
Of dying foemen mingled there—
Foemen at morn, but friends at eve—
Fame or country least their care:
(What like a bullet can undeceive!)
But now they lie low,
While over them the swallows skim,
And all is hushed at Shiloh.
[Ed. note: Halftime Report will not be published on Monday in observance of Memorial Day.]
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PRESIDENTIAL POWER RANKINGS
(270 electoral votes needed to win)
Toss-up: (103 electoral votes): Wisconsin (10), Ohio (18), Florida (29), Arizona (11), Pennsylvania (20), North Carolina (15)
Lean R/Likely R: (186 electoral votes)
Lean D/Likely D: (249 electoral votes)
[Full rankings here.]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 44.2 percent
Average disapproval: 52.6 percent
Net Score: -8.4 points
Change from one week ago: ↑ 0.2 points
[Average includes: American Research Group: 40% approve – 57% disapprove; Fox News: 44% approve – 54% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 42% approve – 53% disapprove; CNN: 46% approve – 51% disapprove; Gallup: 49% approve – 48% disapprove.]
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TRUMP TRAILS BADLY ON HANDLING OF CRISIS
Fox News: “Most voters are concerned about the pandemic and the economy, so when they favor Joe Biden on coronavirus and Donald Trump has a narrow edge on pocketbook issues — it makes for a tight race for the White House. The latest Fox News Poll finds voters trust Biden to do a better job than Trump on health care by 17 points, coronavirus by 9, and relations with China by 6. Trump is trusted more on the economy by a slim 3-point margin. … Eighty-eight percent are concerned about coronavirus spreading and 78 percent feel the economy is in bad shape. There has been a seismic shift in views on the economy since the pandemic. In January, voters rated economic conditions positively by an 11-point margin… Today, views are negative by 58 points: 20 percent excellent/good vs. 78 percent only fair/poor. … In the 2020 ballot test, Biden leads Trump by 48-40 percent. … However, given that 11 percent are undecided or plan to vote for someone else, neither candidate hits 50 percent support. The race could go either way.”
Trump on another possible outbreak: ‘We’re not closing our country’ – NY Post: “President Trump said the US will not shut down again if a second wave of coronavirus infections emerges. ‘We’re not going close the country,’ Trump told reporters Thursday while touring a Ford plant in Michigan. ‘We’re going to put out the fires. Whether it’s an ember or a flame, we’re going put it out, but we’re not closing our country.’ The commander-in-chief said there’s a ‘very distinct possibility’ that the deadly virus starts to spread again as states lift lockdown measures meant to control it. But he suggested that officials will address new outbreaks individually rather than impose widespread restrictions like those that have hammered the US economy in the past two months. ‘This is a country that’s meant to be open, not closed,’ Trump said. ‘I want it open, and we’re going to open, and if there’s a fire, an ember, a flame someplace, we put it out.’”
Trump wears mask, but not in front of cameras – Fox News: “President Trump on Thursday brought a mask with him to tour of a Ford plant in Ypsilanti, Mich., but said he didn’t ‘want to give the press the pleasure of seeing’ him wear it while he was on camera. ‘I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it,’ he said. ‘In the back area I did have a mask on. I had goggles and a mask right back there.’ While speaking without a face covering — next to others wearing masks — the president added that masks were not necessary in the front of the plant, where he was standing. ‘They’re not necessary here. Everybody’s been tested, in fact I was tested this morning so it’s not necessary,’ the president said. … When asked if it was true that it wasn’t required that the president wear a mask, Ford’s CEO, Jim Hackett, told reporters, ‘It’s up to him.’”
Alberta: ‘Life at the Trump Tailgate’ – Politico: “For the masses gathered on the side of the road, the sight of a presidential motorcade—and the knowledge that Donald Trump himself has come to their backyard, to visit the local Ford plant and pay homage to the old ‘Arsenal of Democracy’—is sufficient to distract from the suffering of the day. Country music blares from the back of a parked pickup truck. Giddy customers fork over $5 bills and pull MAGA shirts over their outfits. One man hoists a Betsy Ross-era flag from his fishing pole, with a naked brunette doll—’Governor Half-Whit!’ he cries, echoing a presidential putdown—dangling from a noose. … With no sports to watch, politics are the only game in town—and this is Trump’s tailgate, an experience as unique as the times, the closest thing to one of the president’s signature rallies at a moment when large gatherings have been banned.”
Florida shapes up as ground zero for GOP in 2024 – Politico: “Even as attention focuses on the rapidly intensifying 2020 campaign and the unprecedented complications presented by Covid-19’s double-barreled health crisis and economic catastrophe, there’s another race already in progress. A number of well-known players in the GOP—former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and Vice President Mike Pence, among them—are considered leading contenders to succeed Trump should he win a second term. But Florida, which also boasts Senator Marco Rubio (who many expect to try and avenge his 2016 failure) and Rep. Matt Gaetz, a nationally known congressman and huge Trump ally, already looks like a uniquely consequential proving ground for several of the most likely Republican aspirants to the Oval Office. And it is captivating political insiders who see the contours of a still distant contest emerging in dramatic ways.”
GOP SOUNDS ALARM ON MCSALLY
Politico: “Senior political advisers to President Donald Trump warned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Thursday that Republican Sen. Martha McSally is falling dangerously behind in the critical swing state of Arizona. Trump’s campaign team was meeting with the president at the White House to discuss the state of play in a handful of battleground states. Toward the end of the meeting, Trump pulled McConnell, who was at the White House to meet with him on another matter, into the Roosevelt Room. The discussion turned to Arizona, where recent polling has shown Trump and McSally trailing. Trump himself said he was concerned about McSally, according to three people familiar with the discussion. His political advisers told McConnell about recent survey numbers in Arizona and stressed she was losing to Democrat and former astronaut Mark Kelly.”
Loeffler isn’t going anywhere – Politico: “Kelly Loeffler is behind in the polls and best known for her fortuitously timed stock trades. But the Georgia Republican insisted during a 25-minute interview that she’s not going anywhere. ‘Not only am I not dropping out, but I’m gonna win,’ Loeffler said Thursday. ‘And no one’s going to intimidate me into thinking that that’s the right course for our party, for our state, for our country. I’m working hard to help reelect the president. I’m working hard to win my seat and keep the Senate in Republican hands.’ Loeffler’s five months as a senator have not been easy. She’s facing attacks from the left and right for selling millions of dollars in stocks after receiving a private briefing on the coronavirus pandemic. What’s more, she’s fighting off a serious challenge from Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) — a strong ally of President Donald Trump — who is ahead in most recent public polling.”
Philadelphia elections judge admits taking bribes to inflate vote counts – Fox News: “A former Democratic elections judge has pleaded guilty for his role in accepting bribes to cast fraudulent ballots and certifying false voting results in primary elections in Philadelphia, prosecutors announced Thursday. Domenick J. Demuro, 73, admitted that while serving as an elected municipal Judge of Elections, he accepted bribes in exchange for adding ballots for certain candidates on the voting machines in his jurisdiction and for including the fraudulent ballots in official tallies during the 2014, 2015 and 2016 primary elections in Philadelphia. Demuro further admitted that a local political consultant paid him money to add votes for the consultant’s preferred candidates in different federal, state and local elections. Demuro said the votes he added in exchange for the political consultant’s bribes fraudulently increased the number of votes recorded and tallied for the consultant’s preferred candidates.”
Florida probe finds no fraud in 2018 – Politico: “A Trump election conspiracy theory has fallen apart after Florida’s law enforcement agency said it had found no widespread voter fraud in the 2018 races for Senate and governor. President Donald Trump had complained repeatedly about election ‘fraud’ and theft in heavily populated, Democrat-rich Broward and Palm Beach counties, which had slowly but erratically updated their vote totals after polls closed on Election Day. With each updated tally, Republican candidates Rick Scott, who was running for U.S. Senate, and Ron DeSantis, in a bid for the governor’s mansion, saw their margins of victory narrow. Both races ultimately went to recounts. It’s common for election margins to change as more ballots are counted, but Scott, who was governor at the time, claimed without evidence that the counts reeked of Democratic fraud, a conspiracy theory Trump amplified on Twitter. Scott called for an investigation. Trump backed him up.”
TRUMP: GOVERNORS MUST ALLOW WORSHIP SERVICES
Fox News: “President Trump on Friday announced that new Centers for Disease Control guidance will classify houses of worship as ‘essential,’ as he called on governors to allow them to open ‘right now’ after being closed during the coronavirus lockdowns. Trump announced the policy for churches, synagogues and mosques, during a short briefing at the White House. ‘The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now–for this weekend,’ Trump said. ‘If they don’t do it, I will override the governors.’ ‘In America, we need more prayer not less,’ Trump said. The announcement comes after Trump has been hearing concerns of faith leaders who are unable to hold Sunday services due to coronavirus restrictions at a time when their parishioners are grappling with the crisis. Families may be grieving the loss of loved ones from the virus or struggling with job loss but unable to seek respite in their places of worship.”
More cash for vaccine – NYT: “Expanding its pursuit of an inoculation against the coronavirus, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said on Thursday it would provide ‘up to $1.2 billion’ to the drug company AstraZeneca to develop a potential vaccine from a laboratory at Oxford University. The deal with AstraZeneca is the fourth and by far the largest vaccine research agreement that the department has disclosed. The money will pay for a Phase 3 clinical trial of a potential vaccine in the United States this summer with about 30,000 volunteers. The H.H.S. statement said the agency and AstraZeneca ‘are collaborating to make available at least 300 million doses,’ and projected that the first doses could be available as early as October. That is a very accelerated, ambitious timetable. Most public health experts and scientists caution that a viable, mass-produced vaccine would probably not be available until sometime next year, at the earliest. Plus, billions of doses would be needed around the world.”
Noonan: What we’ve learned – WSJ: “People have suffered. They’ve been afraid. The ground on which they stand has shifted. Many have been reviewing their lives, thinking not only of ‘what’s important’ or ‘what makes me happy’ but ‘what was I designed to do?’ They’ve been conducting a kind of internal life review, reflecting on the decision that seemed small and turned out to be crucial, wondering about paths not taken, recognizing strokes of luck. They’ve been thinking about their religious faith or lack of it, about their relationships. Phone calls have been longer, love more easily expressed, its lack more admitted. It has been a dramatic time. We have stopped and thought about our lives, and our society’s arrangements. We have applauded together, for the first time, those whose jobs kept our towns up and operating, from nurses to truckers. We’ve rethought not only what is ‘essential’ but who is important. All this will change you as a nation. Here is what I am certain of. We will emerge a plainer people in a plainer country, and maybe a deeper one. Something big inside us shifted.”
Fox Poll: Lack of contact is biggest personal hardship of pandemic – Fox News
Appeals court wants answers from Flynn judge on refusal to dismiss case – Politico
Senate leaves for Memorial Day break, full agenda ready for return – Roll Call
AUDIBLE: KEEP PUSHING
“He always taught us that there will always be obstacles in your life. Always. They won’t disappear. It doesn’t matter your status, it does not matter your role or what you do, there will always be obstacles. But you keep pushing forward.” – Jamila Garrett, granddaughter of former White House Butler Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, who served 11 presidents from Eisenhower to Obama, talking to WTTG about Jerman’s legacy following his death at age 91.
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
Tune in this weekend as Mr. Sunday sits down with White House coronavirus task force coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R)and President and CEO of the American Health Care Association, Mark Parkinson. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.
#mediabuzz – Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Chris, I don’t care if you put this in your newsletter, but my take on Polls is, I don’t do them! I only answer the phone when I know who it is with caller ID. We have been like this for the last 25 years since I retired, I’m 82 now. I talk to a lot of the ‘experienced’ people around here and they do the same. So, the polls are not getting anything from the majority of the Trump supporters. Just my observation.” – Larry Braud, Baton Rouge, La.
[Ed. note: You are certainly right about one thing, Mr. Braud: The birth of caller ID made life much more challenging for pollsters. But don’t imagine that folks like you are the only ones who aren’t inclined to pick up when a stranger calls. It’s a bipartisan habit. What it means is that pollsters have to call more and more numbers to get enough completed interviews and have a representative sample. The good news is, our great pollsters are able to figure it out and provide reliable, predictive products.]
Share your color commentary: Email us at [email protected] and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
UPI: “A Missouri-based grocery store chain is finding creative ways to use its closed-down salad bars, with stores using them as beer and liquor bars, cereal bars and even an ‘energy bar.’ Dierbergs Markets, based in Chesterfield, Mo., said its stores closed all salad bars due to COVID-19 concerns in March, and the bars sat bare until Rick Rodemacher, store director of the location in Manchester, Mo., decided to stock the one at his store with other items. ‘He tried other fresh food items at first but when that wasn’t really working he came up with the idea to place beer cans in the empty space,’ Dierbergs Markets said in a statement provided to UPI. ‘It started with beer cans and liquor bottles. Other have done their own versions. We now have a tiki bar, cereal bar and energy bar.’ A photo of the Manchester store’s booze-filled salad bar — with the word ‘salad’ crossed out on signs so they just read ‘bar’ — went viral after being shared on social media by customer Stephanie Hadfield. The store chain has since shared photos showing relabeled salad bars filled with candy, cereal and energy bars.”
AND NOW A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Wounding a President by reversing his most cherished foreign policy goal is an understandable political instinct. But if it wounds the country, it is a bad one.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in Time magazine on June 24, 2001.
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.