2020 Daily Trail Markers: Trump campaign touts immigration ban


Late Monday night, President Trump tweeted plans to sign an executive order that will temporarily halt immigration, CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga reports. “In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!” Mr. Trump tweeted. Yet before any presidential proclamation or order was signed by the president, his reelection campaign sent an email to supporters touting the new measure. “In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, the president announced he will be signing an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States while we are battling the coronavirus,” the campaign message read, in part. The digital engagement campaign asked supporters to take a survey expressing their approval or disapproval of the President’s forthcoming suspension.

A spokesperson for the Trump campaign called the move “common sense” amid recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. “At a time when our economy has been artificially interrupted by the virus, introducing more competition for jobs would worsen unemployment and depress wages, especially in Black and Latino communities,” said Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh in a statement. “Preventing further entrance of people potentially infected with the virus is an additional safety measure for the country.” The president’s announcement follows the Trump administration’s release of new guidelines last week to gradually reopen the American economy, deferring decisions to governors.

In key swing states throughout the southwest, several Democrats and Republicans on Tuesday weighed in online over the president’s plan to temporarily suspend immigration, after he announced it late Monday on Twitter. But in potential battleground states of Arizona and New Mexico, candidates in competitive House races in two districts straddling the U.S.-Mexico border have steered clear of the topic. CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin says both Democratic incumbent Ann Kirkpatrick, who represents Arizona’s 2nd congressional district, and primary challenger Peter Quilter on Tuesday posted criticism of the announcement. But the Republicans in the race have yet to weigh in, except for one candidate retweeting the president. Next door in New Mexico’s 2nd congressional district, where Democratic Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small is expected to be in a tough reelection fight, Republican challenger Claire Chase has publicly posted about the president’s plans, praising it as “the right call.” Another GOP contender, Chris Mathys, issued a statement saying he too supported the move

FROM THE CANDIDATES

JOE BIDEN

Setting their sights on the general election, progressives say Joe Biden should focus his campaign for the White House by running on the judiciary to galvanize broader support. Democrats tell CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson that Biden should release a list of names of potential Supreme Court picks to generate more support among progressives—a plan that mirrors then-candidate Donald Trump’s SCOTUS list during the 2016 campaign. The court watchers worry that if Biden is not elected, the high court and the federal bench could be titled conservative for decades to come. Read more about their push for the courts here. Also on Tuesday, the 400,000-member United Auto Workers union endorsed Biden, citing his prior leadership during the auto recovery during the Obama administration as proof he could help the auto sector spring back from the current economic environment. “In these dangerous and difficult times, the country needs a president who will demonstrate clear, stable leadership, less partisan acrimony and more balance to the rights and protections of working Americans,” the union’s president said.

PRESIDENT TRUMP

CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga says the Trump campaign has released a new attack ad featuring Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s appearance on CBS’ “Late, Late Show with James Corden.” The 60-second spot targets the Speaker’s expensive refrigerator stocked with ice cream, while Americans across the nation are struggling to put food on the table during near economic shutdown. A campaign spokesperson with the Trump campaign tells CBS News the ad will run online only.

Elsewhere Vice President Mike Pence visited a General Electric healthcare manufacturing plant in Madison, Wisconsin where he praised workers for their “outstanding” effort in building ventilators for the nation’s battle against the coronavirus. Pence said “no American who has required a ventilator has been denied a ventilator,” and thanked union machinist members for their “pivotal role in the American response to the coronavirus epidemic.” CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar says Pence also participated in a roundtable discussion with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and GE workers. Pence said GE is ahead of schedule to meet the President’s goal of producing 100,000 ventilators in 100 days. The vice president also mentioned the factory is running three shifts, 24 hours a day, and seven days a week to help with this effort. He said “there is no question in my mind” that this effort has allowed healthcare workers to provide proper care for American families at the center of this epidemic. According to pool reports, Pence also used the public address system to thank everyone at the plant for their “remarkable” accomplishments.

VEEPSTAKES

STACEY ABRAMS

Former Georgia General Assembly Leader Stacey Abrams told “CBS This Morning” anchor Gayle King on Tuesday morning that she has been in contact with Biden’s team, but did not say that it was about being his running mate. “I’ve been very privileged to work very closely with the Biden team in recent weeks, having conversations particularly about how we get Congress to respond to the needs of our voting infrastructure,” Abrams said. 

Abrams spoke about the work she’s done since losing the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial race. “The reality is, I want to serve our country. Whether I do so in elected office or through the work I’m doing at the nonprofit level, or as a small business owner. My responsibility is to make America stronger and I’m excited to be part of this conversation,” she said. 

ELIZABETH WARREN

Senators Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown on Tuesday released a set of policy proposals to help consumers handle debt during the COVID-19 pandemic. CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak reports the senators called for Congress to prevent lenders from seizing stimulus payments to pay their debts, and to “broadly cancel student loan debt to stimulate our economy.” They said that the next coronavirus relief package should give Americans the option to pause their debts and protect them from eviction, repossession or damage to their credit report during the pandemic. They also said Congress must hold Trump’s leadership at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) accountable and make filing for bankruptcy remotely easier for Americans. “Consumer spending drives our nation’s economy, and we will emerge from the current crisis,” Warren and Brown wrote. “But if Americans are left drowning in debt at the end of it, our recovery will be hampered as people will spend less on goods and services.”

GRETCHEN WHITMER

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said Washington Post Live interview that she has not been asked by Biden or his team for vetting or personal information — signs that would indicate Biden is considering her to join the ticket. “I have talked to Joe Biden many times,” Whitmer said. “He checks in relatively regularly to see what’s going on in Michigan. We’ve not had that conversation.” Pressed if she has been asked for documents, CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman says Whitmer replied, “No, not yet.” Vice presidential speculation has swirled around Whitmer as she has garnered national attention for leading her state through the coronavirus pandemic. In the interview, Whitmer said she hopes Michigan can start to slowly reopen parts of the economy, while preventing a second wave of coronavirus. The current stay at home order in Michigan is through April 30. “Some form of an order will continue on, but our hope is that we will start to slowly reengage sectors of our economy in a way that keeps our employees and our customers safe alike,” Whitmer said. 

STATE-BY-STATE

NORTH CAROLINA

As protesters across the country call on Democratic governors to begin canceling “stay-at-home” orders, CBS Charlotte affiliate WBTV reports that more than 100 protesters gathered in downtown Raleigh on Tuesday to call on the state’s governor to lift their “stay-at-home” order. According to WBTV, this is the second Tuesday that protesters have gathered but this week’s group was “much larger.” CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports that North Carolina Democratic Party chair Wayne Goodwin called out some Republicans for attending the protest and “flagrantly” encouraging behavior that he said endangered the lives of “heroes on the front lines.” In a statement, Goodwin said “the frustrations over the economic hardship millions of North Carolinians are feeling right now are entirely valid, but to return to our normal way of life, we must let science, facts and data guide our next steps. Protesting safely under these circumstances is one thing but today’s demonstration quickly devolved into a dangerous situation in which social distancing guidelines were entirely ignored.”  He added “U.S. Representative Dan Bishop and State Representative Jerry Carter’s attendance at this event is a shameful display of ignorance and selfishness.” Goodwin also called on the state Republican Party to disavow the “outrageous behavior” of the aforementioned Republican lawmakers. CBS News reached out to the North Carolina Republican Party but didn’t receive a response before the publishing of this piece. This protest comes as North Carolina grapples with nearly 7,000 laboratory-confirmed cases and more than 200 COVID-19 related deaths.

PENNSYLVANIA

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Pennsylvania Democratic Party on Tuesday launched an effort to encourage Pennsylvanians to complete an application to vote by mail in the presidential and state primary elections, according to CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak. They plan to target over 400,000 voters in the state over text message. These will be the first Pennsylvania elections with no excuse mail-in voting, thanks to a bill signed into law last year by Gov. Wolf. “This texting campaign is one example of the dynamic and creative tactics we’re deploying to ensure Donald Trump is a one-term president,” DNC Battleground State communications director David Bergstein said in a statement. 

WISCONSIN

Milwaukee’s Health Commissioner says there are at least seven cases of the coronavirus tied to in-person voting during the April 7 election as of Monday. CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster says those seven cases are the first linked to the in-person voting held two weeks ago in Wisconsin despite a stay at home order and attempts to delay or cancel in-person voting. The number could increase as more cities report data and as Milwaukee gathers more information. “Please note that we only have 30% of the data back from new cases as of 4/7 and on,” Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik said in a statement to CBS News on Tuesday. “We hope to have these fields complete by Friday and will provide a more complete report then.” Kowalik said the city is also looking at any new cases that began after April 7 since the “incubation period is 14 days,” meaning the time frame when symptoms typically appear. More than 18,000 people voted in-person in Milwaukee at five different polling sites during the April 7 election. Milwaukee typically operates 180 polling locations, but, like many cities around Wisconsin, had to consolidate locations due to a drastic shortage of poll workers. Kowalik said Monday during a press briefing that she expects to know more soon whether those cases were concentrated at a single location or among a group of people who knew each other. “There needs to be a little bit more analysis so we can connect the dots, that’s why case investigation and contact tracing is so important,” Kowalik said. Before Kowalik’s briefing on Monday, Wisconsin Health Secretary-designee Andrea Palm said state officials had not seen “indications of an impact from the election,” but she noted the lag time it can take for symptoms or information about the virus to show up.

Separately, Wisconsin’s Republican leaders in the Legislature are asking the state’s Supreme Court to block Wisconsin’s extended “Safer at Home” order issued last week. Democratic Governor Tony Evers directed Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm last Thursday to extend the order from April 24 to May 26. It lifted some restrictions on daily life, but shut down schools for the rest of the current school year and kept many businesses closed. The legislative leaders slammed the ability for Palm to act with such broad authority. “Purporting to act under color of state law, an unelected, unconfirmed cabinet secretary has laid claim to a suite of czar-like powers—unlimited in scope and indefinite in duration—over the people of Wisconsin,” the filing said. The lawsuit expressed concerns that Palm could continue to extend the order without legislative oversight. It also argues that the state could face dire consequences since restrictions apply not only to cities dealing with a high level of cases, but also “rural counties with few or no known cases.” “By the time the Secretary sees fit to lift her decree (be it in five weeks or eight months), many Wisconsinites will have lost their jobs, and many companies will have gone under, to say nothing of the Order’s countless other downstream societal effects,” the complaint says. “Our State will be in shambles.” The lawsuit comes one day after Evers outlined his plan to start to reopen Wisconsin. The proposal would open the state in three phases based on several metrics, including a 14-day downward trajectory of flu and COVID-19-like cases being reported and a 14-day downward trajectory of positive cases compared to total tests. It requires hitting benchmarks for things like increased testing, more contact tracing, greater access to PPE and enough healthcare capacity.

BY THE NUMBERS

CAMPAIGN CASH

Biden had his best month of fundraising to date in March, as the race for the Democratic presidential nomination quickly winnowed, and one-time rivals rallied behind him. CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice says the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee raised $46.7 million in March. According to the Biden campaign, 70% of his fundraising during that time came in online. The average donation was $40, and the occupation listed most often was “teacher.” Biden’s monthly filing with the Federal Election Commission shows the campaign finished March with more than $26 million cash on hand. Despite his March cash surge, Biden is already acknowledging April numbers might take a hit due to the coronavirus. “I know that April may not match March in fundraising, and that’s okay by me,” Biden wrote in a fundraising email to supporters Monday. While Biden continues to hold virtual fundraisers and make online appeals, his campaign faces a serious cash disadvantage compared to Mr. Trump ahead of the general election. Last week, the Trump campaign announced that along with the Republican National Committee and joint fundraising committees, it raised $212 million in the first three months of 2020, including more than $63 million in March alone. The Republican operation had more than $240 million cash on hand at the end of March. Meanwhile, according to its March FEC filing, the Democratic National Committee raised more than $32 million in March. The DNC finished the month with more than $35 million cash on hand.

IN THE POLLS

As the Trump campaign continues its attempt to link presumptive Democratic nominee Biden with China, a Pew Research Center survey of Americans released today shows U.S. views of China have grown increasingly negative amid the coronavirus outbreak. CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga says roughly two-thirds of Americans surveyed now say they have an unfavorable view of China  — the most negative rating for the country since the Center began asking the question in 2005 and up nearly 20 percentage points since the start of the Trump administration, according to the poll. “As the economies of both China and the United States struggle with the impact of the current pandemic, more Americans now see the U.S. as the world’s leading economic power than at any time over the past 12 years,” the survey reads in part. “In fact, Americans now see the U.S. as more of an economic powerhouse than China by roughly two-to-one (59% vs. 30%).”

ISSUES THAT MATTER

VOTING RIGHTS

Former first lady Michelle Obama knows how to draw a crowd. Her nonprofit, When We All Vote held its second #CouchParty event on Monday night. Organizers said 65,000 people tuned in and 113,000 eligible voters were texted during the virtual voter registration drive. “We’re making sure every single American can make their voice heard in the upcoming election,” Obama told participants. CBS News correspondent Nikole Killion says the celebrity-studded livestream event featured Instagram sensation DJ D-Nice of Club Quarantine fame, Alyssa Milano, Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams, Kelly McCreary and Erica Campbell. Obama was also joined by co-chairs Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, who both recently recovered from the coronavirus. “We’ve had the COVID-19. Made the news. We got through it,” Hanks said. Last week, the group backed federal legislation to expand voting-by-mail, early in-person voting and online voter registration. “No one should ever have to choose between casting a ballot and keeping themselves and their families and their communities safe,” Obama said, noting she and former President Barack Obama have voted by mail for the past decade.

CONGRESSIONAL COVERAGE

IN THE SENATE

A pro-Democratic group and Democratic Senate candidate Sara Gideon’s campaign aired ads in Maine on Tuesday in what has become the second most expensive Senate race in terms of advertising in the country, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson. The race between incumbent Republican senator Susan Collins and Gideon is  closely watched in the battle for who controls the Senate after November. According to data from CMAG/Kantar, Senate campaigns and outside groups have spent a collective $43,053,855 in ad reservations in the state, second only to North Carolina, which has seen over $75 million in ad reservations this year. The pro-Democratic ads that aired Tuesday morning focused on guaranteeing that Mainers have the proper protective equipment to keep themselves and their families safe. The Collins campaign has touted her role in passing the bipartisan Paycheck Protection Program with three ads, including one called “Stepped Up,” that have aired in Maine since the end of March.   

IN THE HOUSE

Mr. Trump’s Monday night endorsements of Republican Congressional candidates Mike Garcia and Tom Tiffany highlighted two upcoming special elections taking different approaches to their ballots. The May 12 special election in California’s 25th district was switched to an all-mail ballot election. Garcia is facing Democratic Assemblywoman Christy Smith in a tight, competitive race for former Congresswoman Katie Hill’s Los Angeles county seat, which the Cook Political Report currently rates as a “Toss Up.” Ballots were sent out to all registered voters on April 15. “This is not a May 12 election, this is an April 15 through May 12 election. Most ballots will be cast in this race long before Election Day,” Smith deputy campaign manager Kunal Atit told CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro. Mr. Trump, who has objected to an all-mail ballot general election, told voters in his endorsement to “turn your Ballots in now and track them, watching for dishonesty. Report to Law Enforcement.” In her response to Mr. Trump’s endorsement of her opponent, Smith criticized Garcia and Mr. Trump’s pandemic response. The president lost this district by about 7 points in 2016, which eventually led to Hill flipping it by almost 10 points in the 2018 midterms. 

In Wisconsin’s 7th district, where Tiffany is facing Democrat Tricia Zunker, the election process has remained unchanged despite Governor Tony Evers’ extension of the state’s stay-at-home order through May 26. Both campaigns are telling supporters to request absentee ballots, but in-person polling locations in the northwest part of the state will remain open during early voting and on May 12. Zunker has repeatedly pushed for an all-mail election and brought up the state’s recent presidential primaries during a call with Senator Tammy Baldwin, who has endorsed her.  “It seems to be the most safest and most logical reason,” Zunker said on Thursday about the all-mail ballot. “I was really heartbroken last week to see the lines of people with masks waiting to vote in person. Nobody should risk their lives to exercise their fundamental right to vote.” The massive, rural district has been held by Republican Sean Duffy since 2010, who resigned last year due to family issues. Tiffany has the fundraising advantage, out-raising Zunker by about $336,000 according to their first quarter reports. Zunker recently went up with a new ad Tuesday, criticizing Tiffany on being against protecting patients with preexisting conditions. 

Before either election is the Maryland 7th district special election for the late Elijah Cummings‘ seat. Ballots were sent out to registered voters on April 8, though there will still be three in-person poll sites open on April 28. Both campaigns are expecting the final count to come in closer to May 8, though the district is historically blue and Democrat candidate Kweisi Mfume has previously served in the seat. Republican Kimberly Klacik said she understood why the ballots were mailed out but was concerned about any potential human errors or voters not receiving them in time for the election. “So many things could happen I feel when you do the mail ins,” she said. “When you have the mail in, just like anything else in the mail, sometimes your package just doesn’t arrive. That happens.”



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