Politics Trump Cabinet members look to reassure battleground voters
Poll Shows Trump Dragging Down G.O.P. Senate Candidates
WASHINGTON — President Trump’s erratic performance in office and his deteriorating standing in the polls is posing a grave threat to his party’s Senate majority, imperiling incumbents in crucial swing states and undermining Republican prospects in one of the few states they had hoped to gain a seat, according to a new poll of registered voters by The New York Times and Siena College. Senator Martha McSally of Arizona, a Republican, trails her Democratic opponent, Mark Kelly, by nine percentage points while Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina is behind his Democratic rival, Cal Cunningham, by three.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue tromped through a strawberry festival in central Florida, detailing the government's new trade pact. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talked about foreign policy at a roundtable in south Florida. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler toured parts of Michigan and Wisconsin, where he boasted of the Trump administration's efforts to clean up the Great Lakes.
And just this past week, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt was listed as a headliner along with White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, a top fundraiser for the president, at an event in Rapid City, South Dakota, where tickets prices started at $250, according to an independent watchdog group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.
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Welcome to Tuesday's Overnight Health Care. There are more than 2.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., including 127,000 deaths. Anthony Fauci issued a stark warning to members of Congress about the coming weeks and months if the U.S. does not alter the trajectory of the pandemic. And the FDA released its requirements for approving a COVID-19 vaccine, as officials sought to reassure the public about the agency'sThere are more than 2.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., including 127,000 deaths. Anthony Fauci issued a stark warning to members of Congress about the coming weeks and months if the U.S. does not alter the trajectory of the pandemic.
With President Donald Trump confronted by skyrocketing joblessness and the coronavirus pandemic as he campaigns for reelection against Democrat Joe Biden, members of his Cabinet are busy making time in pivotal states. They are carrying a message to voters about what the Trump administration is doing for them. At the same time, there are questions about whether these agency heads are running afoul of a law meant to bar overt campaigning by federal officials on the taxpayer tab.
These are states in renewed focus after Trump's narrow 2016 victory. Recent polls in states such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania show Biden leading. The lesson of four years ago is crucial, though. Nearly every poll in the three states showed Democrat Hillary Clinton ahead of Republican Trump, before Trump’s base came together in the final weeks of the campaign.
Who voters want to be Joe Biden’s vice president, according to the polls
Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris lead recent surveys — with a likely boost from name recognition.The two senators, both of whom ran for president themselves, led a list of several reported contenders in a slew of June polls: A Yahoo News/YouGov poll of registered voters conducted June 9-10 had Warren in the lead, with 30 percent of respondents backing her and 24 percent supporting Harris. Meanwhile, a Monmouth University poll of Democratic primary voters fielded June 1-9 found Harris with 28 percent support, while 13 percent preferred Warren.
Cabinet-level leaders have come to Florida alone more than 30 times this year. Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Arizona have also seen visits from agency and administration chiefs discussing federal funding and initiatives for local interests — and talking up Trump.
Trump is hoping for an energized base to buoy his prospects for a second term. His recent rhetoric seems, as he stokes divides over racial injustice and the coronavirus outbreak.
It can be hard to spot any local impact that a housing or a health secretary may have on a presidential race when they are in town. But there can be an effect, said Aubrey Jewett, a political science professor at the University of Central Florida, who has been studying presidential politics in the battleground state.
Cabinet secretaries usually “aren’t generating the same kind of buzz. But it doesn’t mean that what they do is not important both for policy and also politics for their president,” Jewett said.
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The PAC will target "historically Republican voters who are dismayed and disappointed by the damage done to our nation by Donald Trump’s presidency."The group of at least 200 former officials, aides and Cabinet secretaries formed 43 Alumni for Biden to block President Donald Trump from winning a second term, arguing on its website that "democracy is at stake" and there have been "far too many days filled with chaos emanating from the highest levels of government." The group is not directly affiliated with Bush.
A Trump campaign spokesperson did not respond to questions about the Cabinet members' trips.
Biden campaign spokesperson Michael Gwin accused the Trump administration of focusing on "scoring political points, not delivering for the people they work for. With COVID-19 raging unchecked, more than 17 million Americans unemployed, and our country divided, it’s shameful that Trump’s Cabinet is campaigning on the taxpayer’s dime instead of doing their jobs.”
A Washington bigwig showing up with assurances on federal policies most vital to Orlando, Florida, or Milwaukee is usually enough to earn an administration a wave of favorable comments, columns and tweets from local leaders.
In March, for example, when Perdue went to the strawberry festival in Plant City, in central Florida’s Interstate 4 corridor, he talked about the new U.S. trade pact with Mexico and Canada, and spoke of the importance of the farming community.
Afterward, the president of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association, Kenneth Parker, said he was appreciative of “the administration’s commitment ... to move forward in helping us in ways to compete.”
Mary Trump’s book says the president practices ‘cheating as a way of life’
Mary Trump’s book, “Too Much and Never Enough,” will be moved up from July 28 to July 14 — even though the president’s family is trying to block the tell-all in court. The publisher said it’s moving up the release date due to “high demand and extraordinary interest.”“[It] is the story of the most visible and powerful family in the world. And I am the only Trump who is willing to tell it,” Mary Trump, 55, writes in an excerpt of the book’s prologue included in Monday’s release.
When the EPA's Wheeler was in Michigan and Wisconsin last month, he described the administration as a friend of an initiative to clean up the Great Lakes. Never mind Trump’s repeated attempts to kill money for the Obama-era program. GOP lawmakers persuaded Trump, while riding to a Michigan rally last year, to ease up on trying to starve the Great Lakes effort, which is popular across the region, and champion it instead.
“Let’s just say we were happy to see him come around on that,” said Laura Rubin of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, which lobbies for the initiative.
And so this spring and summer, Wheeler and the EPA boast of millions of dollars the agency has doled out for Great Lakes regional projects such as cleaning up toxic sites and curbing farm nutrient runoff that feeds harmful algae blooms.
Wheeler drew praise during the visits from Republican members of Congress and leaders of business groups. Notably absent were environmentalists, who accused Trump and Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, of taking credit for actions by previous administrations and ignoring.
Cabinet secretaries hitting the road to talk up a president's record in an election year is a political norm. Donald K. Sherman, deputy director of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington watchdog group, said it can be tough to track the officials closely enough to know whether they are sticking to the Hatch Act, which is meant to bar obvious campaigning by federal officials with taxpayer money.
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The book from Mary Trump makes damning claims about her uncle, President Donald Trump, including that he paid someone to take his SATs.In a filing first reported by The Daily Beast, Robert Trump argues that his relative is bound by a confidentiality agreement signed years ago — and that book publishers do not enjoy the same right to free speech as news organizations.
But with the White House rejecting recommendations from the Office of Special Counsel to presidential adviser Conway for violating the act by using her office to talk down Democrats, Sherman said he is not sure Trump Cabinet members deserve the benefit of the doubt when it comes to staying within the law on their stops in select states.
“It’s obvious that the administration is doing this for a political reason,” Sherman said. “What’s not obvious is if they’re doing this within the contours of the law or outside of it.”
Interior Department spokesmen did not respond to questions this past week about the Rapid City event, which took place the evening before Bernhardt helped open for Trump at a fireworks show at Mount Rushmore, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility said. It was unclear whether the Trump campaign or the federal government paid for Bernhardt's costs on the trip.
Asked about Hatch Act compliance overall before the latest event, department spokesman Nicholas Goodwin said, “No campaign related activities have taken place on any official travel.”
Spokespeople for two Cabinet-level agencies, the Interior Department and the EPA, did not specifically answer questions about whether they were coordinating such trips and funding announcements with Trump's advisers or with his campaign staff. They said administration officials are doing their job by traveling and are not favoring any areas.
Wheeler’s recent visits "have coincided with important agency announcements that positively impact their respective region,” EPA spokesman James Hewitt said in an email.
Knickmeyer reported from Oklahoma City and Flesher from Traverse City, Mich. Associated Press writer Hannah Fingerhut contributed to this report from Washington.
Battleground Tracker: COVID reshapes presidential race in Sun Belt .
Biden has an edge over Trump in Florida, while the two are neck and neck in Arizona and Texas.In all three states, most voters say their state reopened too soon, and those who say this feel their state went too fast under pressure from the Trump administration. Most also say the president is doing a bad job handling the outbreak. He may be paying a price for that, at least in the short term.