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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Presidential Election of 2020"

As Protests and Violence Spill Over, Trump Shrinks Back

Westlake Legal Group 31dc-trump-pix1-facebookJumbo As Protests and Violence Spill Over, Trump Shrinks Back White House Building (Washington, DC) washington dc United States Politics and Government twitter Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Police Brutality, Misconduct and Shootings Floyd, George (d 2020) Demonstrations, Protests and Riots Black People

WASHINGTON — Inside the White House, the mood was bristling with tension. Hundreds of protesters were gathering outside the gates, shouting curses at President Trump and in some cases throwing bricks and bottles. Nervous for his safety, Secret Service agents abruptly rushed the president to the underground bunker used in the past during terrorist attacks.

The scene on Friday night, described by a person with firsthand knowledge, added to the sense of unease at the White House as demonstrations spread after the brutal death of a black man in police custody under a white officer’s knee. While in the end officials said they were never really in danger, Mr. Trump and his family have been rattled by protests that turned violent two nights in a row near the Executive Mansion.

After days in which the empathy he expressed for George Floyd, the man killed, was overshadowed by his combative threats to ramp up violence against looters and rioters, Mr. Trump spent Sunday out of sight, even as some of his campaign advisers were recommending that he deliver a nationally televised address before another night of possible violence. The building was even emptier than usual as some White House officials planning to work were told not to come in case of renewed unrest.

But while some aides urged him to keep off Twitter while they mapped out a more considered strategy, Mr. Trump could not resist blasting out a string of messages on Sunday once again berating Democrats for not being tough enough and attributing the turmoil to radical leftists.

“Get tough Democrat Mayors and Governors,” he wrote. Referring to his presumptive Democratic presidential opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., he added: “These people are ANARCHISTS. Call in our National Guard NOW. The World is watching and laughing at you and Sleepy Joe. Is this what America wants? NO!!!”

The president said his administration “will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization,” referring to the shorthand for “anti-fascist.” But antifa is a movement of activists who dress in black and call themselves anarchists, not an organization with a clear structure that can be penalized under law. Moreover, American law applies terrorist designations to foreign entities, not domestic groups.

By targeting antifa, however, Mr. Trump effectively sweeps all the protests with the brush of violent radicalism without addressing the underlying conditions that have driven many of the people who have taken to the streets. Demonstrations have broken out in at least 75 cities in recent days, with governors and mayors calling the National Guard or imposing curfews on a scale not seen since the aftermath of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.

While Mr. Trump has been a focus of anger, particularly in the crowds in Washington, aides repeatedly have tried to explain to him that the protests were not only about him, but about broader, systemic issues related to race, according to several people familiar with the discussions. Privately, Mr. Trump’s advisers complained about his tweets, acknowledging that they were pouring fuel on an already incendiary situation.

“Those are not constructive tweets, without any question,” Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only black Republican in the Senate, said in an interview on Sunday. “I’m thankful that we can have the conversation. We don’t always agree on any of his tweets beforehand, but we have the ability to sit down and dialogue on how we move this nation forward.”

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Dan Eberhart, a Republican donor and supporter of Mr. Trump, said the president, with election looming in five months, is focused on catering to his core supporters rather than the nation at large. “Trump is far more divisive than past presidents,” Mr. Eberhart said. “His strength is stirring up his base, not calming the waters.”

Robert O’Brien, the president’s national security adviser, said the president would continue “to take a strong stand for law and order” even as he understood the anger over Mr. Floyd’s death.

“We want peaceful protesters who have real concerns about brutality and racism. They need to be able to go to the city hall. They need to be able to petition their government and let their voices be heard,” Mr. O’Brien said on “State of the Union” on CNN. “And they can’t be hijacked by these left-wing antifa militants who are burning down primarily communities in the African-American sections and the Hispanic sections of our city, where immigrants and hardworking folks are trying to get a leg up.”

But Mr. Trump’s absence rankled the Democrats he was criticizing.

“What I’d like to hear from the president is leadership,” Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta said on “Meet the Press.” “And I would like to hear a genuine care and concern for our communities and where we are with race relations in America.”

Some officials were urging that Mr. Trump hold events intended to show black voters enraged over the latest videotaped act of brutality that he heard their views. But others have counseled that the president should take a hard line, one that is not quite as aggressive as his tweets but that sends a message to business owners whose property has been destroyed that he is willing to defend them.

Some in the president’s circle see the escalations as a political boon, much in the way Richard M. Nixon won the presidency on a law-and-order platform after the 1968 riots. One adviser to Mr. Trump, who insisted on anonymity to describe private conversations, said images of widespread destruction across the country could be helpful to the law-and-order message that Mr. Trump has tried to project since his 2016 campaign.

The adviser said that it could particularly appeal to older women at a time when Mr. Trump’s support among seniors has eroded amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has disproportionately affected them. The risk, this adviser added, is that people are worn out by the president’s behavior.

Other advisers said most top aides were unhappy with Mr. Trump’s 1 a.m. tweet on Friday invoking a 1967 quote from a Miami police chief about “shooting” black people during civil unrest. Those advisers said it was far from certain that Mr. Trump could use the violent outbreaks in cities to improve his weak standing with suburban women and independent voters.

The election was clearly on the president’s mind on Sunday. In response to questions about what he was doing to address the tumult, Mr. Trump forwarded a reply through an aide that focused on the upcoming campaign.

“I’m going to win the election easily,” the president said. “The economy is going to start to get good and then great, better than ever before. I’m getting more judges appointed by the week, including two Supreme Court justices, and I’ll have close to 300 judges by the end of the year.” (So far he has confirmed about 200.)

An administration official said Mr. Trump met on Sunday with generals to discuss a variety of matters and talked with world leaders as he considered how to restructure the annual Group of 7 international summit that he decided to postpone. Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to hold a conference call with governors on Monday as part of the coronavirus response, and the unrest seems likely to be discussed.

Most of the president’s top advisers were not around for the weekend, including Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, and Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser.

Some campaign advisers were pressing for a formal address to the nation as early as Sunday. But White House officials, recalling Mr. Trump’s error-filled Oval Office address in March about the spread of the coronavirus, cautioned that it was not necessary.

Mr. Trump already tried to recalibrate by ripping up his speech at the Kennedy Space Center on Saturday after the launch of the new crewed SpaceX rocket and adding a long passage about Mr. Floyd. In the speech, Mr. Trump repeated his calls for law and order, but in more measured terms and leavened by expressions of sympathy for Mr. Floyd’s family, whom he had called to offer condolences.

Aides were disappointed that the remarks, delivered late Saturday afternoon as part of a speech otherwise celebrating the triumph of the space program, did not get wider attention, but they said they hoped they would break through. Several administration officials said Mr. Trump was genuinely horrified by the video of Mr. Floyd’s last minutes, mentioning it several times in private conversations over the last few days.

Mr. Trump and his team seemed taken off guard by the protests that materialized outside the White House on Friday night. Hundreds of people surged toward the White House as Secret Service and United States Park Police officers sought to block them. Bricks and bottles were thrown, and the police responded with pepper spray. At one point, an official said, a barricade near the Treasury Department next door to the White House was penetrated.

It was not clear what specifically prompted the Secret Service to whisk Mr. Trump to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, as the underground bunker is known, but the agency has protocols for protecting the president when the building is threatened. Vice President Dick Cheney was brought to the bunker on Sept. 11, 2001, when the authorities feared one of the planes hijacked by Al Qaeda was heading toward the White House. President George W. Bush, who was out of town until that evening, was rushed there later after a false alarm of another plane threat.

The bunker has not been used much, if at all, since those early days of the war on terrorism, but it has been hardened to withstand the force of a passenger jet crashing into the mansion above. The president and his family were rattled by their experience on Friday night, according to several advisers.

After his evening in the bunker, Mr. Trump emerged on Saturday morning to boast that he never felt unsafe and vow to sic “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons” on intruders. Melania Trump, anxious about the protests, opted at the last minute not to travel to Florida for the rocket launch on Saturday.

After Mr. Trump returned to the White House from Florida on Saturday, he found a White House again under siege. This time, security was ready. Washington police blocked off roads for blocks around the building, while hundreds of police officers and National Guard troops ringed the exterior perimeter wearing helmets and riot gear and holding up plastic shields.

Protesters shouted “no justice, no peace,” and “black lives matter” as well as a chant targeting Mr. Trump with an expletive while a phalanx of camouflage-wearing troops marched through Lafayette Square to reinforce the police lines. Crowds surged toward the riot troops, and some threw objects. Fires were set in a dumpster and a sport-utility vehicle, while glass windows were shattered at Washington icons like the Hay Adams Hotel and the Oval Room restaurant.

Graffiti was spray-painted for blocks, including on the historic Decatur House a block from the White House: “Why do we have to keep telling you black lives matter?”

By morning, the damage was being swept up, clearly contained to a couple of blocks and nothing like the 1968 riots that devastated Washington. Inside the White House, the president waited for nightfall to see what would happen.

Peter Baker reported from Washington and Maggie Haberman from New York.

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Black Americans Have a Message for Democrats: Not Being Trump Is Not Enough

COLUMBIA, S.C. — In an on-camera address after a week of destructive protests, former vice president Joseph R. Biden Jr. pleaded with his audience to imagine life for black people in America. Imagine, he said, “if every time your husband or son, wife or daughter left the house, you feared for their safety.” Imagine the police called on you for sitting in Starbucks.

“The anger and frustration and the exhaustion, it’s undeniable,” he said.

Exhaustion. For many black Americans across the country, what a year this month has been. The coronavirus pandemic has continued to disproportionately kill black people, and a spate of high profile killings in recent months in Georgia, Kentucky, and Minnesota, the latter two at the hands of the police, led to widespread demonstrations nationwide.

Protests shook more than three dozen cities on Saturday as crowds expressed outrage over the death of George Floyd, a black security guard who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis. Demonstrators shut down freeways, set fires and battled police batons and tear gas, the pain and frustration of the moment spilling out into the streets.

In Columbia, the city where Mr. Biden delivered his victory speech after the South Carolina primary just over three months ago, demonstrators on Saturday said they were demanding more than what it seemed like an election in November would deliver. Not only justice for the death of George Floyd, but change in political and economic power that would prevent the death of another black person in police custody, another brutal video going viral.

“I’m tired of coming out here,” said Devean Moon, a 21-year-old Columbia resident, one of hundreds who participated in the peaceful protests in the city. “I’m tired of feeling forced to do all this.”

Credit…Sean Rayford for The New York Times
Credit…Sean Rayford for The New York Times

It dawned on Sierra Moore, 24, who attended the protests carrying a homemade sign that read “No Justice, No Peace,” that she and her grandmother have been protesting the same issues over the course of a century.

She looked at the racially diverse group of thousands, which gathered for a short program on the State House steps before leading a march to the local police station.

Next to her was another sign: “Respect my existence or expect my resistance.”

“I just don’t think that’s how change happens,” Ms. Moore said of voting. “They’ve been telling us to do that for so long — and we’ve done it — and look at everything that’s still going on.”

Her words — expressing a sentiment shared by her peers — serve notice to politicians, civil rights groups and Mr. Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee who has urged unity amid the frustration. “If you want change in America, go and register to vote,” said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, but interviews with activists and leading Democratic figures including Stacey Abrams of Georgia, the longtime civil rights leader and former presidential candidate Jesse Jackson, and Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, flipped that typical framework: If Democrats want people to vote, party leaders need to listen to why people are angry.

Ms. Abrams described the events of the past week as what happens when people are desperate for “their pain to be validated.”

“You cannot motivate someone to a behavior that they don’t believe will actually bring change,” she said. “We have to start by saying what you feel and what you fear is real.”

Mr. Biden has attempted to strike this balance. He made clear during his recent remarks that he had spoken to Mr. Floyd’s family. He talked about the country needing to confront the “uncomfortable truths” of racism.

“The very soul of America is at stake,” he said, tying the tension between the police and black communities to removing President Trump from the White House.

But the moment may still test Mr. Biden’s priorities, as a weary black electorate desires far greater change than the promise of a return to normalcy that has fueled his campaign. The Democratic Party is the political home of most black Americans. The former vice president, one of the Senate architects of the modern criminal justice system, cannot confront racism without addressing systemic inequalities, and he cannot address systemic inequalities by simply returning to a pre-Trump America.

“Our needs aren’t moderate,” Mr. Jackson said in a recent interview. “The absence of Trump is not enough.”

Mr. Biden’s win in South Carolina was a turning point for his once-flailing campaign. His support came from across all demographics, but his particular strength was older black voters — people who said the community’s familiarity with and trust of Mr. Biden, combined with his perceived ability to beat Mr. Trump, earned their backing.

To win in November, and to deliver on his promise of American unity, Mr. Biden is likely to need more than the coalition that brought him his primary victory. And to engage younger voters, he’ll need to offer more than the promise of ousting Mr. Trump as an answer to current despair.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172935528_e26db12b-e101-4778-b2eb-44643a30f52c-articleLarge Black Americans Have a Message for Democrats: Not Being Trump Is Not Enough Trump, Donald J Pressley, Ayanna Presidential Election of 2020 Politics and Government Police Brutality, Misconduct and Shootings Jackson, Jesse L discrimination Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Columbia (SC) Civil Rights and Liberties Black People Biden, Joseph R Jr Abrams, Stacey Y
Credit…Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune, via Associated Press

On the policy front, a task force with criminal justice experts that supported Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has already been convened. Mr. Jackson, who supported Mr. Sanders in the primary, said Mr. Biden is “a consensus builder” and, if surrounded by the right people, the quality should serve him well.

But Mr. Biden also must minimize mistakes, said Mayor Stephen Benjamin of Columbia, alluding to the recent controversy in which Mr. Biden apologized after saying “you ain’t black” to black people uncertain whether to support him or Mr. Trump.

“The greatest asset that every candidate has, for better or for worse, is authenticity,” Mr. Benjamin said. He views authenticity as a prerequisite to leveling with people who are used to being disappointed. “I do believe, that if the vice president is authentically Joe, a legitimately good man who cares, I think people will gravitate to that authenticity.”

Engaging with a community that feels disaffected by the political system can be difficult. Mr. Trump has made a public show of trying to coax black Americans away from the Democratic Party, though he inadvertently made clear in comments to reporters on Saturday how little progress he has made: “MAGA is Make America Great Again,” he said, discussing his voting base. “By the way, they love African-American people, they love black people. MAGA loves the black people.”

Last October, Mr. Trump was in Columbia to address a forum on policing and criminal justice — many of the issues protesters are taking to the streets over — held at Benedict College, a historically black institution. He spoke a day ahead of some of the 2020 Democratic candidates, including Mr. Biden.

“The Democratic policies have let African-Americans down and taken them for granted,” Mr. Trump said then.

Progressive black leaders are extremely critical of Mr. Trump, as are many black voters. But they also believe that Democrats have sometimes been their greatest obstacle in addressing police brutality and racial inequality.

“Part of the reason these are systemic inequalities is that they transcend not only party, but time,” said Ms. Abrams, who is among those being vetted by Mr. Biden as a potential running mate. She also noted that:“We have to be very intentional about saying this is not about one moment or one murder — but the entire infrastructure of justice.”

Ms. Pressley, one of the House members who introduced a resolution to condemn police brutality, racial profiling, and the excessive use of force in Congress this past week, pointed to the confluence of issues facing black communities: a public health crisis, an economic crisis and, with the threat of police violence, “just trying to stay alive.”

Economic experts have predicted that even as the country faces a nationwide downturn, black communities may be hit particularly hard. Access to capital will dry up more quickly, especially for black business owners, and a coming “avalanche of evictions” could displace black renters across the country.

Ms. Pressley, an insurgent progressive in 2018 who beat a Democratic incumbent partly with a strategy to engage nontypical voters, said if elected officials want to speak to people’s pain, they have to understand the “deficit of trust” they’re operating under.

“People don’t participate, not because they’re ignorant and they don’t know enough,” she said. “It’s because they know too much. They live it every day.”

At Saturday’s march in South Carolina’s capital, thousands gathered at a state capitol rich with its own racial back story. The Old Carolina State House was burned to the ground during the Civil War, and the new building includes monuments to 19th-century state figures who were open racists — such as Dr. J. Marion Sims, a pioneer in the field of surgery who experimented on enslaved black women, and Benjamin Tillman, a former U.S. senator and South Carolina governor who spoke positively about lynch mobs that killed black residents.

Credit…Sean Rayford for The New York Times

On Saturday, the state house steps were filled with many black South Carolinians, demanding the right to live without fear, an echo of what some people fought for more than a century ago, in the days of Mr. Sims and Mr. Tillman.

“Clearly our voices are not enough,” said Kayla Brabham, a 28-year-old student at Benedict College who skipped Mr. Trump’s speech at her school.

“It’s not just the last couple years or months, it’s the whole time I’ve been alive,” she said. “We should not have to come out here to make y’all feel like we’re important.”

Even her name, she said, was a reminder of the country’s legacy of black violence.

“B-R-A-B-H-A-M, ” she said, spelling it out. “We got that from our slave masters. My great-great-grandmother was a slave in Hampton, South Carolina.”

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‘The Pain Is Too Intense’: Joe Biden Challenges White Americans

WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., addressing a nation on edge, challenged white Americans on Friday to fully confront the enduring inequities faced by black Americans because, he said, “the pain is too intense for one community to bear alone.”

In his first formal remarks since a white Minneapolis police officer was recorded kneeling on the neck of a black man who later died, Mr. Biden spoke in stark terms about the everyday indignities African-Americans still suffer, from the threat of police violence to the cloud of suspicion that follows them from coffee shops to public parks.

“This is the norm black people in this country deal with,” he said in a brief speech from his Wilmington, Del., home. “They don’t have to imagine it.”

His impassioned plea stood in contrast to President Trump, who just minutes after Mr. Biden spoke appeared at the White House but declined to address the country’s boiling racial tensions — after stoking them with an inflammatory tweet in the morning suggesting that unruly protesters might be shot. Mr. Trump did address the death of the man, George Floyd, at a round table later Friday, calling it a terrible event that should “never happen.”

What was just as revealing about Mr. Biden’s address Friday, and his underlying political wager, is what he did not say.

He made no attempt to soothe the fears of those white Americans who, while sympathetic to the plight of people of color, are just as uneasy about the kind of disturbances that left parts of Minneapolis in flames Thursday night.

Over nearly a half-century in politics Mr. Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has carefully balanced appeals for racial justice with tough-on-crime rhetoric. On Friday, however, he offered no equivocation and did not warn against violence, except to implicitly chide Mr. Trump for his warning that looters could be shot. The burden of responsibility, Mr. Biden suggested, was not on the shoulders of those protesting in the streets of American cities.

“With our complacency, our silence, we are complicit in perpetuating these cycles of violence,” he said, warning that “if we simply allow this wound to scab over once more without treating the underlying injury, we’ll never truly heal.”

Mixing a prepared speech with off-the-cuff comments, Mr. Biden did not stretch for rhetorical greatness. Perhaps befitting the setting, his basement, he was more intimate than lofty.

But his spare words amounted to a bet that other white Americans now share the equally concise sentiment he expressed earlier Friday on Twitter: “Enough.”

He is wagering that the necessity for on-the-other-hand politics, the sort he and his party have long practiced to appeal to the center, has been obviated by a pandemic that is disproportionately sickening and killing people of color; by the now-common stories of people like Christian Cooper, a black man threatened by a white woman while birding in Central Park; and by the names of the deceased Mr. Biden read off at the start of his speech, whose true fate is known only because of cellphone cameras that do not lie.

“I think the reaction of a lot of white people is now just, ‘Damn man, this is bad,’” James Carville, the Democratic strategist, said, referring to shifting sensibilities about the treatment of minorities. “The technology has just brought this home to people, that this is really what is happening.”

The forcefulness of Mr. Biden’s remarks was a pleasant surprise to some black Democrats, who have witnessed him commit a string of gaffes related to race, and were skeptical that a 77-year-old white man could channel African-American anguish.

“Joe Biden went there,” said Bakari Sellers, a Democratic activist who has written about growing up black in the rural South. “Even Barack Obama hedged on issues of race and was not always clear in his language. But to be completely fair, I’m not sure Barack Obama could have given that speech.”

Former Senator Carol Moseley Braun, the nation’s first black female senator, added, “I just need voters to see the Joe Biden I know, who is very clear on race and racism.”

But Mr. Biden has not always made that easy, and Ms. Moseley Braun said his campaign must do more to communicate with voters on this subject, especially after Mr. Biden’s remark last week suggesting that African-Americans torn between himself and Mr. Trump “ain’t black.” The immediate backlash prompted him to apologize hours later.

“The campaign needs to step up their game and connect more,” she said. “I think I fielded 30 phone calls since his foot got in his mouth.”

Mr. Biden may eventually feel compelled to denounce the rioting that began Thursday in a number of cities, particularly if the violence escalates or if police officers are killed in the line of duty, as some were in the summer of 2016.

Few Democrats have found success when they let Republicans seize the mantle of law and order.

“Most Americans are fair-minded people who want justice to be done in situations where wrong has occurred,” the Republican pollster Whit Ayres said. “But they also believe that you shouldn’t go out destroying innocent people’s property and threatening people’s lives as a means of doing so.”

For the moment, just as he did in his comeback primary victory, Mr. Biden is greatly benefiting from his opposition.

Shortly after the former vice president spoke, Mr. Trump seemed poised to wield the full stagecraft of the presidency as he strode into the Rose Garden to address reporters. But instead of speaking about Mr. Floyd, calling for law and order or some combination of both, the president stood before a group of his advisers, all white men, and sought to turn the country’s attention to China.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172963500_8fd56e5a-d8b2-401a-98fb-25e7297f0208-articleLarge ‘The Pain Is Too Intense’: Joe Biden Challenges White Americans Whites United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Speeches and Statements Race and Ethnicity Presidential Election of 2020 Police Brutality, Misconduct and Shootings Minneapolis (Minn) Looting (Crime) Floyd, George (d 2020) Demonstrations, Protests and Riots Democratic Party Deaths (Fatalities) Black People Biden, Joseph R Jr
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Mr. Trump said nothing about the events of this week in Minneapolis, ignored shouted questions as he walked back in the White House and later struggled to justify calling the violent protesters “thugs” and warning that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

If those sentiments, expressed in a pair of after-midnight tweets, were vintage Trump, Mr. Biden’s speech mixed his familiar patter with some unexpected touches.

He opened his hastily arranged address by noting that he had spoken with the Floyd family, the sort of consoler-in-chief outreach he has become known for after his own life of loss, and concluded with another note of reassurance to the family along with a final challenge to white America.

“I love you all, and folks, we’ve got to stand up,” he said. “We’ve got to move. We’ve got to change.”

Mr. Biden also evoked past leaders, some explicitly, like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and others less directly.

Citing the country’s founding promise, he echoed John F. Kennedy’s declaration that equality is “as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution.”

By reciting the names of the black victims and repeating what has become a watchword of the racial justice movement, “I can’t breathe,” Mr. Biden also summoned Lyndon B. Johnson, who borrowed the lyrics of the civil rights protest song to vow “we shall overcome.”

Mr. Biden’s advisers recognize that their candidate’s greatest strength is his ability to empathize with people in pain — but finding ways to display that skill while campaigning from home has presented a steep challenge.

This week, however, a campaign that has struggled with caution and indecision in the past moved aggressively to highlight stark contrasts with Mr. Trump on matters of leadership and character.

Mr. Biden made his first public appearance in around two months on Monday, when he ventured out to pay his respects to the war dead on Memorial Day. Mr. Trump, too, saluted members of the military — but he also mocked Mr. Biden for wearing a mask, and on Tuesday he pushed an unfounded allegation of murder against a television host.

On the day that the American death toll from the coronavirus reached 100,000 lives, Mr. Biden delivered by video a somber Oval Office-style address to “my fellow Americans,” citing his own experiences with personal loss to promise that healing would come.

And on Friday morning, while parts of Minneapolis were still smoldering, Mr. Biden announced he would speak on the pain Mr. Floyd’s death had caused.

“The very soul of America is at stake,” Mr. Biden said, infusing the slogan he began his campaign with just over a year ago with fresh urgency. “We must commit as a nation to pursue justice with every ounce of our being.”

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Protests in Minnesota Renew Scrutiny of Klobuchar’s Record as Prosecutor

Westlake Legal Group protests-in-minnesota-renew-scrutiny-of-klobuchars-record-as-prosecutor Protests in Minnesota Renew Scrutiny of Klobuchar’s Record as Prosecutor United States Politics and Government Sharpton, Al Race and Ethnicity Presidential Election of 2020 Police Department (Minneapolis, Minn) Police Brutality, Misconduct and Shootings National Assn for the Advancement of Colored People Minneapolis (Minn) Klobuchar, Amy Floyd, George (d 2020) Democratic Party Black People

Senator Amy Klobuchar swept into office in 2007 as a former tough prosecutor, boasting of how she had reduced crime in the biggest county in Minnesota. But as protests over George Floyd’s death in police custody bring chaos and violence to Minneapolis, her seven-year record as prosecutor there is facing renewed scrutiny as she prepares to be vetted as a leading vice-presidential contender.

With a police force in Minneapolis that has long faced accusations of racism and complaints of abuse, Ms. Klobuchar declined to bring charges against multiple police officers who were involved in shootings during her seven-year tenure. Instead she often opted to send cases to a grand jury, a common practice at the time but one that some law enforcement experts say favors police officers.

In October 2006, Derrick Chauvin, the same officer who knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than seven minutes as he complained he could not breathe, was one of six officers involved in the shooting of a man who had stabbed multiple people before turning on the police. Ms. Klobuchar, weeks away from being elected to the Senate, was still the prosecutor, but the case wasn’t heard until after she took the oath of office in Washington.

“Senator Klobuchar’s last day in the office here was December 31, 2006, and she had no involvement in the prosecution of this case at all,” said Lacey Severins, a spokeswoman for the Hennepin County prosecutor’s office, which encompasses Minneapolis.

Although she had no role in reviewing Mr. Chauvin’s case in 2006, Ms. Klobuchar’s name was trending online Thursday, with many quick to tie that decision to her long record as a prosecutor that critics viewed as overly friendly to police officers. The searing emotions surrounding Mr. Floyd’s death have reopened old wounds in her relationship with some national and local community activists in Minneapolis.

Democrats acknowledge that the situation in Minneapolis is a highly fluid and unsettled one, and the political implications of the violence and civil unrest there cannot be foreseen with any clarity. It is too soon to say with certainty that the events of this week will weigh heavily on Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s choice of running mate or affect Ms. Klobuchar’s chances of becoming his vice-presidential nominee.

But with Floyd killing rekindling the painful national conversation about race, her tenure as prosecutor could become a significant liability for Ms. Klobuchar in the vice-presidential selection process. During her own presidential campaign, Ms. Klobuchar faced continued protests, as well as some calls to drop out of the race from local black leaders in Minneapolis, after news reports found numerous faults in the prosecution of a black teenager named Myon Burrell while Ms. Klobuchar was the prosecutor. Two days before Super Tuesday in March, a rally in her home state was shut down by protesters demanding she do more to help free Mr. Burrell.

Ms. Klobuchar said while on the campaign trail that the case “should be reviewed,” but local civil rights leaders in Minneapolis wanted the senator to use the full power of her office to demand a new investigation.

This week, Ms. Klobuchar issued a statement after Mr. Floyd’s killing, calling for an “outside investigation” and saying that “those involved in this incident must be held accountable.” She was met with near immediate criticism from local and national activists for not mentioning Mr. Floyd’s name or saying that he had been killed by the police.

Behind the scenes, Ms. Klobuchar has been reaching out to local and national leaders in the black community since Mr. Floyd’s killing. She called the Rev. Al Sharpton; Derrick Johnson, the president of the NAACP; and Leslie Redmond, the president of the Minneapolis NAACP. She joined other Minnesota elected officials to send a letter to the local United States attorney and district attorney urging a full investigation into Mr. Floyd’s death.

But still, some Democrats thought that Ms. Klobuchar, now one of the party’s leading national voices, should have been more publicly vocal in the wake of Mr. Floyd’s death.

“I think that clearly how she behaves and conducts herself in her home state with the situation with the killing is going to be something everyone is going to watch,” Mr. Sharpton said in an interview. “I’d like to see her do more, I’d like to see her be more aggressive in calling for intervention here. When you have the mayor saying the people ought to be charged, it raises the bar on other elected officials who have not said that.”

This morning, Ms. Klobuchar said on Twitter that the city was “hurting for justice & charges for George Floyd.”

In the months since she dropped out of the presidential race and endorsed Mr. Biden, Ms. Klobuchar has taken steps to rectify some of her record.

On the Wednesday after Mr. Biden dominated Super Tuesday states, Ms. Klobuchar sent a letter from her Senate office to the district attorney’s office in Hennepin County, asking them to launch an independent review of Mr. Burrell’s case. She also met with Mr. Burrell’s family and local activists.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_169875078_d28cf25e-746f-4640-9a63-68fe824c77a7-articleLarge Protests in Minnesota Renew Scrutiny of Klobuchar’s Record as Prosecutor United States Politics and Government Sharpton, Al Race and Ethnicity Presidential Election of 2020 Police Department (Minneapolis, Minn) Police Brutality, Misconduct and Shootings National Assn for the Advancement of Colored People Minneapolis (Minn) Klobuchar, Amy Floyd, George (d 2020) Democratic Party Black People
Credit…Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Ms. Klobuchar’s strengths remain compelling to some in the Biden campaign, who view her as an appealing choice for suburban voters, especially women, who are crucial to Mr. Biden’s electoral map. She also appeals to older voters who have shifted markedly away from President Trump and toward Mr. Biden in recent months, according to public and private polling.

Mr. Biden himself regards her as a vital ally, an ideological fellow traveler and someone to whom he owes a debt of gratitude for her forceful endorsement before Super Tuesday. There is little doubt among allies that Mr. Biden sees Ms. Klobuchar as qualified for the vice presidency.

“She’s our best bet to get disaffected white, blue-collar Democrats who voted for Trump in 2016 back into the Democratic column,” said former Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania, who also stressed that any of the other women under consideration would also bring benefits to the ticket. “She’d be the biggest help to Joe.”

But Biden allies and senior Democrats are fully aware of the opposition to Ms. Klobuchar that has built on the left, largely for reasons unrelated to her record as a prosecutor. She is also viewed skeptically by some black leaders who are hoping Mr. Biden will choose an African-American running mate. She attracted virtually no support from black voters in the Democratic presidential primaries.

Several women viewed as serious candidates for the vice presidency have extensive backgrounds in law enforcement, including Ms. Klobuchar; Senator Kamala Harris of California, who was a district attorney and state attorney general; and Representative Val Demings of Florida, who was the police chief in Orlando, Fla. Of those women, only Ms. Klobuchar is white.

Ms. Redmond, of the Minneapolis NAACP, had been one of the leading voices calling on Ms. Klobuchar to drop out of the Democratic primary because of her handling of Mr. Burrell’s case. She said the fact that Ms. Klobuchar reached out personally was a welcome surprise, but added that she and Ms. Klobuchar have “unfinished business.”

“One of the reasons why I fight so hard is because I’ve had to fight so many times on the front lines for lots of people that we couldn’t bring back, and here we are, yet again, another black man has been murdered,” Ms. Redmond said. “And we can’t bring back George Floyd. And that sickens me because he should be alive today.

“But we have to have an opportunity to right wrongs. So I commend Senator Klobuchar for reaching out so far, and I look forward to her helping us freeing Myon Burrell A.S.A.P, and we need to put our full force and energy into that.”

Alexander Burns contributed reporting.

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Biden vs. Trump on Coronavirus Testing

WASHINGTON — Joseph R. Biden Jr. has proposed harnessing the broad powers of the federal government to step up coronavirus testing, with a public-private board overseeing test manufacturing and distribution, federal safety regulators enforcing testing at work and at least 100,000 contact tracers tracking down people exposed to the virus.

The presumptive Democratic nominee’s plan, laid out in a little-noticed Medium post, stands in stark contrast to President Trump’s leave-it-to-the-states strategy, detailed in an 81-page document released over the weekend. And it presents voters in November with a classic philosophical choice over the role they want Washington to play during the worst public health crisis in a century.

With more than 100,000 Americans already dead from the coronavirus and at least 1.7 million infected, testing has emerged as a major campaign issue. Polls show that most people want better access to testing and believe that it is the job of the federal government. Like Mr. Biden, Democrats running for Congress have seized on testing as a prime example of what they view as Mr. Trump’s incompetent response to the crisis.

In Michigan, Senator Gary Peters, an incumbent Democrat, tells viewers in a TV ad that “our workplaces need to be safe” and “that means more testing.” In Colorado, an ad for Senator Cory Gardner, an incumbent Republican, begins with footage of a news anchor saying, “Coronavirus tests are coming to Colorado from South Korea because of Senator Cory Gardner.”

In Maine, Sara Gideon, a Democrat running to unseat Senator Susan Collins, is airing an ad in which she says that “the federal government needs to expand testing, which is critical to keeping us safe.” In Washington, Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a news conference on Tuesday to attack the Trump plan as insufficient.

“Mr. President, take responsibility,” Ms. Pelosi declared, adding, “That’s what the president of the United States is supposed to do.”

Beyond the slogans and congressional calls for a national testing strategy, Mr. Biden’s plan, laid out late last month as he struggled to grab voters’ attention, begins to flesh out what such a strategy would entail.

Harking back to the War Production Board created during World War II by Franklin D. Roosevelt, the former vice president proposed a “Pandemic Testing Board” to oversee “a nationwide campaign” to increase production of diagnostic and antibody tests, coordinate distribution, identify testing sites and people to staff them, and build laboratory capacity.

Testing, he and his advisers wrote, “is the springboard we need to help get our economy safely up and running again.”

Mr. Biden said he would do what the Obama administration did during the H1N1 pandemic of 2009 — instruct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which regulates workplace safety, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue detailed guidance for how employers should protect their workers, including testing, campaign advisers say. OSHA would enforce compliance.

Under Mr. Trump, OSHA has issued Covid-19 guidance for employers that is “advisory in nature and informational in content” and does not mention testing. The C.D.C.’s interim guidance for employers says only that companies “should not require a Covid-19 test result” or a doctor’s note to grant sick leave or to determine whether employees can return to work.

Mr. Biden would also create a federal entity: the U.S. Public Health Jobs Corps, a force of at least 100,000 people, including AmeriCorps and Peace Corps volunteers and laid off workers, to trace the contacts of those who test positive for the virus. It would also “become the permanent foundation” of a service that would address other public health priorities like the opioid epidemic.

Republicans argue in favor of a more localized response led by state governments. “With support from the federal government to ensure states are meeting goals, the state plans for testing will advance the safe opening of America,” says the Trump administration’s Covid-19 Strategic Testing Plan, prepared by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, called Mr. Biden’s idea a “typical Democratic response.”

“There’s a big difference between what’s going on in Queens, N.Y., and rural Tennessee, and the governors know best what to do,” he said, adding, “Every time you have a national problem, whether it’s education or health, the instinct of Democrats is to say, ‘Let’s solve it from Washington,’ and my instinct and that of Republicans is that this is a country that works state by state, community by community.”

Some public health experts, including those who advise the Biden campaign and some who do not, say that is a false dichotomy. The federal government could and should cooperate with and support the states, and also take a more aggressive role, they say, particularly in a chaotic environment where a global shortage has left governors — and now employers — competing for scant supplies of test kits and wondering how best to use them.

“Every university, every employer, every organization is struggling to figure out how to use testing to create a safe environment,” said David A. Kessler, a Biden campaign adviser who was the commissioner of food and drugs under Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton.

“If you’re Amazon,” he added, “you can hire people to put in place testing systems to help assure the safety of your work force, but not everyone can do that. Why are we reinventing this firm by firm, school by school, employer by employer?”

Congress required Mr. Trump to provide a national testing strategy in the $484 billion stimulus package it passed last month and required the states to submit plans to the federal government for approval. But Democrats on Capitol Hill say the strategy the Trump administration offered over the weekend falls far short of what they envisioned.

Experts say there should be two main components to a comprehensive national testing strategy: a centralized effort to acquire test kits and distribute them, and clear guidance on how to use them.

Andrew Slavitt, who was the acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Barack Obama and has provided advice to the Trump White House during the pandemic, said one reason for the government to control the acquisition of coronavirus tests was that commercial labs were increasing their prices to as much as $140 a test.

“In this laissez-faire policy, there are scarce resources, and whoever has the scarce resources gets to charge what they want, and the states all get to bid and now the employers are bidding,” he said. “The consequences of this are to make the distribution much more costly, much more uneven.”

As for how to use the tests, Republicans say such plans are best developed state by state, community by community. But with a virus that respects no borders, Democrats insist that a national standard is essential.

“We would say, if you want to reopen a school, then you have to test so many kids per day; they have to be retested every so often,” said Representative Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey, the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, adding: “The same thing with employers. How many people have to be tested before it’s safe to go back to work? How often do they have to be retested?”

Polls show that voters tend to favor a prominent role for the federal government. In a Pew Research survey released this month, 61 percent of Americans said coronavirus testing was mostly or entirely the responsibility of the federal government, not the states.

A Fox News poll released last week found that 63 percent of registered voters viewed the “lack of available testing” as a “major problem.” Just 12 percent said it was not a problem at all. Voters said they trusted Mr. Biden to do a better job on health care than Mr. Trump by a 17-point margin and favored Mr. Biden on the handling of the pandemic by nine points over Mr. Trump.

In a CNN poll earlier in May, 57 percent of Americans said the federal government was not doing enough to address the limited availability of coronavirus testing.

“When Americans hear Trump talking about testing not being his responsibility, the takeaway is that he’s just passing the buck,” said Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster.

While Mr. Trump has repeatedly said that anyone who wants a test can get one, that is not true in many parts of the country. It is true in Tennessee, where Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, has decided that the state will pay for testing. “When in doubt, get a test,” he said on his Facebook page, adding, “Aggressive testing is key to our reopening strategy.”

And while Mr. Trump has emphasized the number of people who have been tested — more than 15 million Americans, as of Monday — experts say the more important metrics are what percentage of the population has been tested, what percentage of tests come back positive and how those tests are deployed.

“Instead of focusing on what we need to do as a country to keep ourselves and our populations and especially our vulnerable people safe, and saying let’s come up with the right testing strategy and make sure we have enough tests to implement it, we’ve just been fighting about the number of tests,” said Ashish Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

Testing has been a confounding issue for Mr. Trump since the early days of the pandemic, when sloppy laboratory practices at the C.D.C. caused contamination that rendered the nation’s first coronavirus tests ineffective, delaying the rollout. The country never quite caught up.

Countries that had aggressive early testing campaigns — South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Germany, among others — have largely controlled their epidemics. Before the pandemic there were 12 direct flights between Taiwan and Wuhan, China, its epicenter, each week.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172826667_196189da-2caa-4721-985d-fb8c78a0cf1a-articleLarge Biden vs. Trump on Coronavirus Testing United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Tests (Medical) Presidential Election of 2020 Coronavirus Reopenings Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Biden, Joseph R Jr
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Mr. Trump’s travel ban “led us to believe that we had shut the barn door when there was a flood of virus coming into our country from multiple directions,” said J. Stephen Morrison, who runs a global health program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He added, “We didn’t have a testing system and we didn’t want one.”

Emily Cochrane and Thomas Kaplan contributed reporting from Washington, and Giovanni Russonello from New York.

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Biden vs. Trump on Coronavirus Testing

WASHINGTON — Joseph R. Biden Jr. has proposed harnessing the broad powers of the federal government to step up coronavirus testing, with a public-private board overseeing test manufacturing and distribution, federal safety regulators enforcing testing at work and at least 100,000 contact tracers tracking down people exposed to the virus.

The presumptive Democratic nominee’s plan, laid out in a little-noticed Medium post, stands in stark contrast to President Trump’s leave-it-to-the-states strategy, detailed in an 81-page document released over the weekend. And it presents voters in November with a classic philosophical choice over the role they want Washington to play during the worst public health crisis in a century.

With more than 100,000 Americans already dead from the coronavirus and at least 1.7 million infected, testing has emerged as a major campaign issue. Polls show that most people want better access to testing and believe that it is the job of the federal government. Like Mr. Biden, Democrats running for Congress have seized on testing as a prime example of what they view as Mr. Trump’s incompetent response to the crisis.

In Michigan, Senator Gary Peters, an incumbent Democrat, tells viewers in a TV ad that “our workplaces need to be safe” and “that means more testing.” In Colorado, an ad for Senator Cory Gardner, an incumbent Republican, begins with footage of a news anchor saying, “Coronavirus tests are coming to Colorado from South Korea because of Senator Cory Gardner.”

In Maine, Sara Gideon, a Democrat running to unseat Senator Susan Collins, is airing an ad in which she says that “the federal government needs to expand testing, which is critical to keeping us safe.” In Washington, Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a news conference on Tuesday to attack the Trump plan as insufficient.

“Mr. President, take responsibility,” Ms. Pelosi declared, adding, “That’s what the president of the United States is supposed to do.”

Beyond the slogans and congressional calls for a national testing strategy, Mr. Biden’s plan, laid out late last month as he struggled to grab voters’ attention, begins to flesh out what such a strategy would entail.

Harking back to the War Production Board created during World War II by Franklin D. Roosevelt, the former vice president proposed a “Pandemic Testing Board” to oversee “a nationwide campaign” to increase production of diagnostic and antibody tests, coordinate distribution, identify testing sites and people to staff them, and build laboratory capacity.

Testing, he and his advisers wrote, “is the springboard we need to help get our economy safely up and running again.”

Mr. Biden said he would do what the Obama administration did during the H1N1 pandemic of 2009 — instruct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which regulates workplace safety, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue detailed guidance for how employers should protect their workers, including testing, campaign advisers say. OSHA would enforce compliance.

Under Mr. Trump, OSHA has issued Covid-19 guidance for employers that is “advisory in nature and informational in content” and does not mention testing. The C.D.C.’s interim guidance for employers says only that companies “should not require a Covid-19 test result” or a doctor’s note to grant sick leave or to determine whether employees can return to work.

Mr. Biden would also create a federal entity: the U.S. Public Health Jobs Corps, a force of at least 100,000 people, including AmeriCorps and Peace Corps volunteers and laid off workers, to trace the contacts of those who test positive for the virus. It would also “become the permanent foundation” of a service that would address other public health priorities like the opioid epidemic.

Republicans argue in favor of a more localized response led by state governments. “With support from the federal government to ensure states are meeting goals, the state plans for testing will advance the safe opening of America,” says the Trump administration’s Covid-19 Strategic Testing Plan, prepared by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, called Mr. Biden’s idea a “typical Democratic response.”

“There’s a big difference between what’s going on in Queens, N.Y., and rural Tennessee, and the governors know best what to do,” he said, adding, “Every time you have a national problem, whether it’s education or health, the instinct of Democrats is to say, ‘Let’s solve it from Washington,’ and my instinct and that of Republicans is that this is a country that works state by state, community by community.”

Some public health experts, including those who advise the Biden campaign and some who do not, say that is a false dichotomy. The federal government could and should cooperate with and support the states, and also take a more aggressive role, they say, particularly in a chaotic environment where a global shortage has left governors — and now employers — competing for scant supplies of test kits and wondering how best to use them.

“Every university, every employer, every organization is struggling to figure out how to use testing to create a safe environment,” said David A. Kessler, a Biden campaign adviser who was the commissioner of food and drugs under Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton.

“If you’re Amazon,” he added, “you can hire people to put in place testing systems to help assure the safety of your work force, but not everyone can do that. Why are we reinventing this firm by firm, school by school, employer by employer?”

Congress required Mr. Trump to provide a national testing strategy in the $484 billion stimulus package it passed last month and required the states to submit plans to the federal government for approval. But Democrats on Capitol Hill say the strategy the Trump administration offered over the weekend falls far short of what they envisioned.

Experts say there should be two main components to a comprehensive national testing strategy: a centralized effort to acquire test kits and distribute them, and clear guidance on how to use them.

Andrew Slavitt, who was the acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Barack Obama and has provided advice to the Trump White House during the pandemic, said one reason for the government to control the acquisition of coronavirus tests was that commercial labs were increasing their prices to as much as $140 a test.

“In this laissez-faire policy, there are scarce resources, and whoever has the scarce resources gets to charge what they want, and the states all get to bid and now the employers are bidding,” he said. “The consequences of this are to make the distribution much more costly, much more uneven.”

As for how to use the tests, Republicans say such plans are best developed state by state, community by community. But with a virus that respects no borders, Democrats insist that a national standard is essential.

“We would say, if you want to reopen a school, then you have to test so many kids per day; they have to be retested every so often,” said Representative Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey, the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, adding: “The same thing with employers. How many people have to be tested before it’s safe to go back to work? How often do they have to be retested?”

Polls show that voters tend to favor a prominent role for the federal government. In a Pew Research survey released this month, 61 percent of Americans said coronavirus testing was mostly or entirely the responsibility of the federal government, not the states.

A Fox News poll released last week found that 63 percent of registered voters viewed the “lack of available testing” as a “major problem.” Just 12 percent said it was not a problem at all. Voters said they trusted Mr. Biden to do a better job on health care than Mr. Trump by a 17-point margin and favored Mr. Biden on the handling of the pandemic by nine points over Mr. Trump.

In a CNN poll earlier in May, 57 percent of Americans said the federal government was not doing enough to address the limited availability of coronavirus testing.

“When Americans hear Trump talking about testing not being his responsibility, the takeaway is that he’s just passing the buck,” said Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster.

While Mr. Trump has repeatedly said that anyone who wants a test can get one, that is not true in many parts of the country. It is true in Tennessee, where Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, has decided that the state will pay for testing. “When in doubt, get a test,” he said on his Facebook page, adding, “Aggressive testing is key to our reopening strategy.”

And while Mr. Trump has emphasized the number of people who have been tested — more than 15 million Americans, as of Monday — experts say the more important metrics are what percentage of the population has been tested, what percentage of tests come back positive and how those tests are deployed.

“Instead of focusing on what we need to do as a country to keep ourselves and our populations and especially our vulnerable people safe, and saying let’s come up with the right testing strategy and make sure we have enough tests to implement it, we’ve just been fighting about the number of tests,” said Ashish Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

Testing has been a confounding issue for Mr. Trump since the early days of the pandemic, when sloppy laboratory practices at the C.D.C. caused contamination that rendered the nation’s first coronavirus tests ineffective, delaying the rollout. The country never quite caught up.

Countries that had aggressive early testing campaigns — South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Germany, among others — have largely controlled their epidemics. Before the pandemic there were 12 direct flights between Taiwan and Wuhan, China, its epicenter, each week.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172826667_196189da-2caa-4721-985d-fb8c78a0cf1a-articleLarge Biden vs. Trump on Coronavirus Testing United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Tests (Medical) Presidential Election of 2020 Coronavirus Reopenings Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Biden, Joseph R Jr
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Mr. Trump’s travel ban “led us to believe that we had shut the barn door when there was a flood of virus coming into our country from multiple directions,” said J. Stephen Morrison, who runs a global health program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He added, “We didn’t have a testing system and we didn’t want one.”

Emily Cochrane and Thomas Kaplan contributed reporting from Washington, and Giovanni Russonello from New York.

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Trump Prepares Social Media Executive Order to Limit Protections

Westlake Legal Group merlin_172871268_935d1319-1413-4c5a-a888-d16081482813-facebookJumbo Trump Prepares Social Media Executive Order to Limit Protections United States Politics and Government twitter Trump, Donald J Social Media Rumors and Misinformation Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Presidential Election of 2020 News and News Media Executive Orders and Memorandums

The Trump administration is preparing an executive order intended to curtail the legal protections that shield social media companies from liability for what gets posted on their platforms, two senior administration officials said early Thursday.

Such an order, which officials said was still being drafted and was subject to change, would make it easier for federal regulators to argue that companies like Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter are suppressing free speech when they move to suspend users or delete posts, among other examples.

The move is almost certain to face a court challenge and is the latest salvo by President Trump in his repeated threats to crack down on online platforms. Twitter this week attached fact-checking notices to two of the president’s tweets after he made false claims about voter fraud, and Mr. Trump and his supporters have long accused social media companies of silencing conservative voices.

White House officials said the president would sign the order later Thursday, but they declined to comment on its content. A spokesman for Twitter declined to comment.

Under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, online companies have broad immunity from liability for content created by their users.

But the draft of the executive order, which refers to what it calls “selective censoring,” would allow the Commerce Department to try to refocus how broadly Section 230 is applied, and to let the Federal Trade Commission bulk up a tool for reporting online bias.

It would also provide limitations on how federal dollars can be spent to advertise on social media platforms.

Some of the ideas in the executive order date to a “social media summit” held last July at the White House, officials said.

Although the law does not provide social media companies blanket protection — for instance, the companies must still comply with copyright law and remove pirated materials posted by users — it does shield them from some responsibility for their users’ posts.

Along with the First Amendment, Section 230 has helped social media companies flourish. They can set their own lax or strict rules for content on their platforms, and they can moderate as they see fit. Defenders of the law, including technology companies, have argued that any move to repeal or alter it would cripple online discussion.

But as conservatives have claimed that social media companies are biased against them and overmoderate their political views, Republican lawmakers have increasingly pushed to modify the statute.

Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Josh Hawley of Missouri also chimed in this week after Twitter applied its new fact-checking standard to the president. Both lawmakers have been critics of the protections that technology companies enjoy under Section 230, and they renewed their calls to alter it.

The president has long favored Twitter as a means to reach his supporters, posting personal attacks and previewing policy. This week, Mr. Trump repeatedly spread a debunked conspiracy theory about the MSNBC host Joe Scarborough and the death of a woman who worked for him in his congressional office years ago. The woman’s widower has pleaded with Mr. Trump to stop.

The president ignored the widower’s request and denounced Twitter, claiming in a tweet that the social media company was trying to tamper with the November presidential election.

On Wednesday, he continued to criticize the company, accusing it of stifling conservative views. “We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen,” Mr. Trump tweeted.

A spokesperson for YouTube declined to comment on the executive order. Representatives for Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s chief executive, appeared to be pre-emptively trying to soften any blowback from the White House. In a taped television interview scheduled for Thursday morning with Fox, he cast aspersions on Twitter’s willingness to fact check Mr. Trump on its platform in real time.

“I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online,” Mr. Zuckerberg said. “Private companies probably shouldn’t be, especially these platform companies, shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.”

Courts have often ruled in favor of technology companies, upholding their immunity. It is not clear that the executive order would alter judges’ views on the law.

“It’s unclear what to make of this because to a certain extent, you can’t just issue an executive order and overturn on a whim 25 years of judicial precedent about how a law is interpreted,” said Kate Klonick, an assistant law professor at St. John’s University who studies online speech and content moderation.

Ms. Klonick, who said she had seen a draft version of the order, said that it was “likely not going to be upheld by a court.”

Mike Isaac and Dai Wakabayashi contributed reporting.

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Twitter Grapples Anew With Its Trump Conundrum

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But when President Trump posted a veiled threat in January that Representative Adam Schiff, Democrat of California, had “not paid the price, yet” for helping to spearhead an impeachment inquiry against him, Twitter didn’t put a warning on the tweet.

But when Mr. Trump falsely asserted last week that Michigan’s secretary of state had “illegally” sent out absentee ballot applications for the November election during the pandemic, Twitter did not affix any labels on that message, either.

On Tuesday, Twitter’s handling of Mr. Trump’s tweets — or what some say has been a startling lack of handling — again came to the fore.

That was when the widower of Lori Klausutis, who died in 2001 from complications of an undiagnosed heart condition while working for Joe Scarborough, a Florida congressman at the time, asked Twitter to delete Mr. Trump’s tweets about his late wife. Mr. Trump had posted false conspiracy theories about Ms. Klausutis’s death in recent days, suggesting that Mr. Scarborough was involved, as part of his long-running feud with the MSNBC host.

Twitter said it would not remove Mr. Trump’s posts about Ms. Klausutis, even as her widower called them “horrifying lies,” because they did not violate its terms of service. That echoed what the social media company has repeatedly said about its lack of action on Mr. Trump’s posts: That while his messages may skirt the line of what’s accepted under Twitter’s rules, they never cross it.

The San Francisco company’s latest refusal to take down Mr. Trump’s posts — which are often riddled with falsehoods, inaccuracies and threats — highlights its conundrum with the president. Mr. Trump, who uses Twitter as his social media platform of choice, has brought attention and growth to the company. If Twitter deleted his tweets, it would escalate accusations from conservative politicians that it censors their political views.

Twitter creating a carve-out for public leaders is “misguided,” said Joan Donovan, research director at Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center, who studies disinformation. “If world leaders are not kept to the same standard as everyone else, they wield more power to harass, defame and silence others.”

Twitter is in a tough spot, Ms. Donovan added. If it removed the president’s tweets, he could open an investigation into Twitter or fast-track regulations on the company. But allowing his tweets to remain could keep spreading the misinformation, she said.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_143314560_600d67bc-575d-40c5-a0bb-a1a24d62f40b-articleLarge Twitter Grapples Anew With Its Trump Conundrum Widows and Widowers United States Politics and Government twitter Trump, Donald J Social Media Rumors and Misinformation Presidential Election of 2020 Presidential Election of 2016 Labeling and Labels (Product) Dorsey, Jack Cyberharassment Corporate Social Responsibility Computers and the Internet
Credit…Eric Thayer for The New York Times

That dilemma with Mr. Trump has put Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive, under scrutiny. In a series of tweets last October, Mr. Dorsey said the company would ban all political ads from the service because they presented challenges to civic discourse, “all at increasing velocity, sophistication, and overwhelming scale.” He worried such ads had “significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle.”

Yet Mr. Dorsey has appeared unwilling to tackle Mr. Trump’s tweets even though disinformation experts said political tweets from world leaders often reach a wider audience than political ads and have a greater power to misinform.

On Tuesday, Mr. Dorsey faced fresh criticism over Mr. Trump’s tweets about Ms. Klausutis. Apart from the plea from her widower, Timothy Klausutis, to remove the posts, Mr. Scarborough also called the tweets “unspeakably cruel.” Others, including Katie Couric and the CNN anchor Jake Tapper, expressed sympathy for the Klausutis family, with Mr. Tapper calling Mr. Trump’s tweets “malicious lies.”

“We are deeply sorry about the pain these statements, and the attention they are drawing, are causing the family,” a Twitter spokesman, Nick Pacilio, said in a statement. “We’ve been working to expand existing product features and policies so we can more effectively address things like this going forward, and we hope to have those changes in place shortly.” The company declined further comment.

Some of the renewed criticism appeared to push Twitter to act. On Tuesday afternoon, it marked two of Mr. Trump’s tweets about mail-in ballots with a “Get the facts” link to more information.

Twitter is not the only tech company struggling with moderating Mr. Trump’s threats and falsehoods online. Mr. Trump posted identical comments about Ms. Klausutis’s death on Facebook. One of his posts there gained about 4,000 comments and 2,000 shares and was not mentioned by Mr. Klausutis. On Twitter, that same post, which questioned whether Mr. Scarborough had gotten away with murder, was shared 31,000 times and received 23,000 replies.

Twitter faces singular pressure because it is Mr. Trump’s most frequently used method of communicating with the public. Early in his presidency, he tweeted about nine times a day, but has accelerated his pace, averaging 29 tweets a day last year and posting up to 108 times on May 10, according to a tally by The New York Times.

For years, Twitter took a hands-off approach to moderating the posts on its platform. That brought it acclaim when it enabled dissidents to tweet about political protests, like the Egyptian revolution in 2011. But it also allowed trolls, bots and malicious operatives onto the site, making Twitter an epicenter for harassment, misinformation and abuse.

During Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, his aggressive Twitter tactics attracted attention and were mimicked by his supporters. That led Twitter to clamp down on harassment and grapple with the kinds of political speech it would allow. Revelations about election interference and disinformation campaigns on Twitter during the 2016 campaign prompted further changes.

In 2018, Mr. Dorsey said he would focus on molding the platform to support “healthy” conversations.

“We have witnessed abuse, harassment, troll armies, manipulation through bots and human-coordination, misinformation campaigns, and increasingly divisive echo chambers,” he tweeted at the time. “We aren’t proud of how people have taken advantage of our service, or our inability to address it fast enough.”

But Mr. Trump himself has escaped enforcement. Although he has sometimes deleted his own tweets when they contain misspellings, Twitter has largely left his posts alone.

That hands-off treatment has been controversial inside Twitter. In 2017, a rogue Twitter worker deactivated Mr. Trump’s account. The account was reinstated in about 10 minutes.

Critics have piled on over time. Last year, Senator Kamala Harris, Democrat of California, asked Mr. Dorsey to suspend Mr. Trump’s Twitter account. In a letter to Ms. Harris, Twitter reiterated its public stance on tweets by world leaders and said it would err on the side of leaving the posts up if there was a public interest in doing so.

Other world leaders have not enjoyed similar freedom on Twitter. Tweets from the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, and the Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, that promoted unproven cures for the coronavirus were recently removed.

Twitter has maintained that Mr. Trump does not violate its policies and that the company would take action if he crossed the line.

“We believe it’s important that the world sees how global leaders think and how they act. And we think the conversation that ensues around that is critical,” Mr. Dorsey said in an interview with HuffPost last year. If Mr. Trump posted something that violated Twitter’s policies, Mr. Dorsey added, “we’d certainly talk about it.”

Kate Conger reported from Oakland, Calif., and Davey Alba from New York. Ben Decker contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Campaigning in a Crisis: Obama, McCain, Trump and Biden

It was a late Sunday afternoon in September 2008, and senior aides to Barack Obama were gathered at his presidential campaign headquarters in Chicago. Their latest polling showed that Mr. Obama, the Democratic nominee, had lost his lead over his opponent, Senator John McCain, since the Republican convention. They were worried.

Two hours into the meeting, Mr. Obama walked in the door. Henry M. Paulson, the secretary of the Treasury, had just alerted him of bad economic news that would become public in the coming hours, Mr. Obama told his aides. “The world is going to change and whatever you guys are working on is going to be different tomorrow,” he said, according to participants.

Early the next morning, Lehman Brothers, one of the nation’s most prominent securities firms, filed for bankruptcy. The collapse shook the nation’s financial industry and sent the stock market into free fall. Overnight, with the election less than two months away, a historic economic crisis transformed America’s presidential race, testing both candidates on who best could lead the nation to recovery.

With its staggering death toll, surging unemployment and economic devastation, the Covid-19 crisis confronting the nation today is far more cataclysmic than the 2008 meltdown. But Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain faced a series of choices — on leadership, empathy and tone, on executing political strategy and navigating fast-moving events on Wall Street, Main Street and Washington — that are relevant and even illuminating as President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. try to navigate another campaign playing out against the backdrop of a national emergency.

After the Lehman bankruptcy on Sept. 15, over the crush of the next 14 days, Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama were forced to respond to a crisis in real time. It involved a complex unraveling on Wall Street, the anxieties of millions of Americans seeing huge losses in their retirement accounts, and the polarized politics of the White House and Capitol Hill. There was little time for polling or focus groups, aides to both campaigns said, and decisions were made on instinct.

These were the 14 days that decided the 2008 race and assured Mr. Obama’s election as the next president, in the view of both the McCain and Obama camps.

“The race changed on a dime,” said David Plouffe, who was Mr. Obama’s campaign manager. “It became, who did the American people trust to dig us out of a crisis? And that’s going to be the same here.”

Once again, virtually all other issues have given way to which candidate can communicate, manage and reassure an alarmed public. With five months to the November election and no end to the coronavirus in sight, the 2020 race is demanding not only a sophisticated policy response from Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden, but also a display of confidence, competence and steady temperament. The crisis has almost certainly changed what at least some voters will consider in judging the candidates.

For Mr. Trump, the pressure is to lay out a course for the nation while also shifting public focus to his opponent, Mr. Biden, as the president tries to display the kind of empathy in times of suffering that has often eluded him over his years in public life. For Mr. Biden, the challenge is presenting himself as capable of leading, while deprived of any platform of authority or easy avenues with which to demonstrate his ability, as he quarantines himself at home in Delaware.

The need to prove their readiness in a crisis, take positions on tough issues and speak deftly — all were true in 2008, too.

As the fall campaign began, Mr. Obama was running as a face of reform in Washington. The first-term senator from Illinois pledged to enact national health care, and attacked Mr. McCain for supporting the war in Iraq. He tied Mr. McCain to the unpopular Republican president, George W. Bush, and an economy that was already in distress.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_25146337_009104dd-3621-425d-b844-bf80ac1e54f9-articleLarge Campaigning in a Crisis: Obama, McCain, Trump and Biden United States Economy Trump, Donald J Subprime Mortgage Crisis Presidential Election of 2020 Presidential Election of 2008 Obama, Barack McCain, John Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Biden, Joseph R Jr
Credit…Todd Heisler/The New York Times

But almost immediately, the crisis threatened to highlight one of Mr. Obama’s biggest weaknesses: a lack of experience compared with a four-term senator from Arizona. And Mr. Obama, as a senator and the leader of his party, would most likely have to vote on a Wall Street bailout that could undercut his stance as a candidate campaigning against special interests.

Mr. McCain was running on a pledge to cut taxes, spending and governmental regulation. And Mr. McCain, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, presented himself a national security expert running against a media celebrity without the experience to run a White House.

But now, Mr. McCain was forced to talk abut the complexities of the economy, an issue he was never comfortable with, and defend his advocacy of Wall Street deregulation. And Mr. McCain’s instinctive and irreverent style — which had always been part of his appeal as a senator in Washington — damaged him as a candidate running during a crisis. He responded rapidly and rashly, in the view of his aides, ultimately undercutting any hope of portraying Mr. Obama as too young to lead in an emergency.

“We might have won,” said Charlie Black, a senior strategist for Mr. McCain, as he recalled the Wall Street collapse. “This made it not a close call.”

Rick Davis, another senior McCain aide, said Mr. Trump’s campaign should pay heed to the 2008 experience.

“This is it,” he said. “I saw what happens when an issue galvanizes the American public. You can talk about anything else you want. We could have had a shooting war in the Gulf in the middle of the financial crisis and nobody would have cared.”

Mr. Obama entered the fall with a historical advantage over Mr. McCain. Since Franklin D. Roosevelt, only one party had won the White House three times in a row. A New York Times/CBS News poll conducted the weekend before the Lehman Brothers collapse found 68 percent of Americans disapproved of the way Mr. Bush was conducting his job, and 81 percent thought the nation was heading in the wrong direction. Unemployment hit 6.1 percent in August, a five-year high.

But Mr. McCain was a popular leader of his party; Mr. Obama’s political résumé was thin. And he was seeking to become the nation’s first African-American president.

“We thought we had a steady advantage in the battleground states, but it was not outsized,” Mr. Plouffe said. “There were only so many bricks you could put on the wagon. This young candidate, hasn’t been in Washington long, was in the State Senate only four years ago. Fresh face, but now we are in a national crisis. Is that going to be too many bricks on the wagon?”

But Mr. McCain seemed unsteady from that very first day when, after an already scheduled meeting with financial advisers in New York, he flew to Florida to address the meltdown.

“People are frightened by these events,” he said. “Our economy, I think still, the fundamentals of our economy are strong.”

The remark reflected what he had heard that morning and what he had said before. But candidates are often judged by their performance under fire, how they respond to unanticipated events, since that is a big part of being president. And in the context of the day, the “fundamentals of our economy” remark seemed a serious misstep that suggested Mr. McCain was unable to grasp the gravity of the crisis.

“Did he just say the fundamentals of the economy are strong?” McCain’s close friend and senior adviser Mark Salter said as he watched the speech at campaign headquarters in Arlington, Va. Mr. Black’s stomach fell. “It didn’t fit the moment,” Mr. Black said.

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Another senior adviser, Steve Schmidt, was more dire. “The race was over at that moment,” he said. “It was done. Over. Ka-Boom.”

When Daniel Pfeiffer, who was Mr. Obama’s communications director, heard Mr. McCain on television, he raced to Mr. Plouffe’s office to alert him, and an advertisement using Mr. McCain’s words was finished within hours.

“It allowed us to begin to play alternative president in a world of who can handle this crisis better,” said Robert Gibbs, the campaign spokesman, who would become the White House press secretary.

Mr. Obama addressed it that afternoon in Pueblo, Colo. “Senator McCain, what economy are you talking about?” he said.

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

Mr. McCain backtracked quickly. By the next morning, in a round of talk show appearances, he was calling the economic situation a “total crisis” and denouncing “greed” on Wall Street.

That week, the U.S. took control of the American International Group in an $85 billion bailout to prevent it from collapsing. Mr. McCain was warned by business leaders that unless Congress intervened, Americans would be unable to draw money from cash machines, Mr. Schmidt said.

But even with all of Mr. McCain’s difficulties, Mr. Obama’s advisers worried voters would return to safer harbors.

“Our immediate question was, is that going to change the threshold for Obama to win?” Mr. Pfeiffer said. “It could fundamentally change how willing people were to take a risk.”


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated May 26, 2020

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      Over 38 million people have filed for unemployment since March. One in five who were working in February reported losing a job or being furloughed in March or the beginning of April, data from a Federal Reserve survey released on May 14 showed, and that pain was highly concentrated among low earners. Fully 39 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work, compared with 13 percent in those making more than $100,000, a Fed official said.

    • Is ‘Covid toe’ a symptom of the disease?

      There is an uptick in people reporting symptoms of chilblains, which are painful red or purple lesions that typically appear in the winter on fingers or toes. The lesions are emerging as yet another symptom of infection with the new coronavirus. Chilblains are caused by inflammation in small blood vessels in reaction to cold or damp conditions, but they are usually common in the coldest winter months. Federal health officials do not include toe lesions in the list of coronavirus symptoms, but some dermatologists are pushing for a change, saying so-called Covid toe should be sufficient grounds for testing.

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

    • How can I help?

      Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can give blood through the American Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in major cities.


The Republican candidate had an opportunity to define his opponent, but, trapped by his own record, he could not seize it. He had long been a foe of governmental regulation. Now, Mr. McCain demanded regulations to crack down on Wall Street. He called for the removal of Christopher Cox, Mr. Bush’s appointee as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

None of it seemed to work. Mr. Davis felt that every time he saw Mr. McCain on television giving a speech, there would be a ticker on the lower corner of the screen showing the downward arrow of a market declining by the minute.

Nine days after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, a Washington Post-ABC News Poll showed Mr. Obama had gained his first clear lead in the general election campaign. Mr. Schmidt proposed that Mr. McCain leave the campaign trail to join the White House and congressional leaders struggling to pass a bailout and challenge Mr. Obama to join.

“Our numbers were in free fall,” Mr. Schmidt said. “The only chance that all of us agreed on was that maybe if this passed, it stabilizes things and there’s some sense of normalcy before the election.” Mr. Davis thought it was a mistake. “I was like, no!” Mr. Davis said. “Nobody goes to Washington during a presidential campaign.”

The Republican candidate loved the idea of an unconventional gambit, aides said. He called Mr. Obama and proposed they go to Washington and postpone a debate set for that Friday in Mississippi.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Before Mr. Obama had a chance to respond, Mr. McCain announced on television that he was returning to Washington and suspending his campaign. Mr. McCain’s advisers were caught off guard and Mr. Obama felt ambushed; he told aides Mr. McCain never mentioned suspending the campaign.

Mr. Obama’s campaign advisers assembled in a hotel room near Tampa, where he had gone for debate preparation. “It was such a fast-moving situation,” Mr. Plouffe said. “Maybe people want us to suspend the campaign? We didn’t know. For all the data and polling and machinery, usually campaigns come down to these moments you can’t plan for.”

Mr. Obama agreed to return for a White House meeting but would not suspend his campaign. “Presidents are going to have to deal with more than one thing at a time,” he said.

Mr. Bush called the meeting at Mr. McCain’s request, but told aides he never understood the reason. And Mr. McCain sat silently through most of it, yielding his time to other Republicans and Mr. Obama. The meeting only intensified the stalemate and Democrats seized on Mr. McCain’s demeanor to portray him as erratic in a time of crisis.

Mr. Black told Mr. McCain he would not be able to skip the next day’s debate. The debate was supposed to be about foreign policy, but the two candidates were questioned from the start about the crisis. Mr. McCain again struggled to explain what he would do.

Mr. McCain returned to the campaign trail. He was on the airport tarmac in Columbus, Ohio, that Monday as a bailout vote began in the House. He asked the pilot to delay the takeoff when he realized that Republicans were voting overwhelmingly against the bill.

“The damn thing went down,” said Mr. Black, who was with Mr. McCain. “Oh my gosh. And House Republicans did it. Bush was being blamed for it. The first time it occurred to me that we might not win this thing was when the House failed to pass the stimulus package.”

The Dow fell 7 percent that day alone; by the time Congress passed the $700 billion bailout later that week, it was too late to help Mr. McCain.

Credit…Todd Heisler/The New York Times

If the Republican failed at the test of presidential leadership during this crisis, in the view of many voters, the Democrat — for all the criticism of him of being emotionally detached and inexperienced — seemed to settle on a tone of assurance and command. Aides to Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama say finding that tone during a much graver crisis is the biggest obstacle Mr. Trump faces today.

“People want a unifying figure,” said David Axelrod, who was the Obama campaign’s senior strategist. “In a crisis, people want to see public officials work together. This is not a situation that favors Trump. The divisive, nasty politics that are the hallmarks of Trump are not what the country is looking for in the midst of a crisis.”

Mr. Davis said there was probably little Mr. McCain could have done in 2008 — and there is little Mr. Trump can do now.

“I mean, what are you going to do?” he said. “No ad was going to change any of this. One speech isn’t going to change this. I’m sure the Trump guys are confronting the same thing: How do you get ahead in Michigan when you have a pandemic going on?”

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Trump Threatens to Pull Republican National Convention From North Carolina

Westlake Legal Group merlin_171974004_8756999f-3c1c-44c3-83cc-acea842f0187-facebookJumbo Trump Threatens to Pull Republican National Convention From North Carolina Trump, Donald J Republican National Convention Presidential Election of 2020 Pence, Mike North Carolina Lyles, Vi Coronavirus Reopenings Cooper, Roy A Charlotte (NC)

President Trump on Monday threatened to yank the Republican National Convention from Charlotte, N.C., where it is scheduled to be held in August, accusing the state’s Democratic governor of being in a “shutdown mood” that could prevent a fully attended event.

The president tweeted that he had “LOVE” for North Carolina, a swing state that he won in 2016, but he added that without a “guarantee” from the governor, Roy Cooper, that the event could be held at full capacity, “we would be spending millions of dollars building the Arena to a very high standard without even knowing if the Democrat Governor would allow the Republican Party to fully occupy the space.”

Mr. Trump wrote that if Mr. Cooper did not provide an answer “immediately,” he would “be reluctantly forced to find, with all of the jobs and economic development it brings, another Republican National Convention site. This is not something I want to do.”

Separately, in an interview on “Fox & Friends,” Vice President Mike Pence said that without guarantees from North Carolina, Republicans might need to move the convention to a state further along in the reopening.

The New York Times reported last week that Republicans were quietly discussing the possibility of a pared-down convention. Mr. Trump has wondered aloud to several aides why the convention can’t be held in a hotel ballroom in Florida, a state with a Republican governor that is further along in relaxing restrictions related to the coronavirus.

In his interview on Fox News, Mr. Pence listed Florida, as well as Georgia and Texas — two other states with Republican governors — as possible host states.

Republicans are contractually bound by a 2018 agreement to hold the convention in Charlotte. But Mr. Cooper and Vi Lyles, the mayor, have said they will let health experts determine whether the convention can be safely held from Aug. 24 to 27.

In a statement, Dory MacMillan, an aide to Mr. Cooper, said: “State health officials are working with the R.N.C. and will review its plans as they make decisions about how to hold the convention in Charlotte. North Carolina is relying on data and science to protect our state’s public health and safety.”

In North Carolina, where Republican lawmakers have pressured Mr. Cooper to speed up the end of social-distancing measures, a modified “safer at home” order took effect on Friday as the state entered “Phase 2” of reopening. The order allows restaurants to open at 50 percent capacity and permits outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people.

Mr. Cooper is up for re-election this year, and Charlotte, the largest city in North Carolina, is a critical area for him. More than a third of Charlotte residents are black, and Mr. Cooper will need robust turnout among black voters to get another term. Low-income and minority communities across the country have been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus.

Mecklenburg County, home to Charlotte, has recorded more than 3,300 coronavirus cases and at least 74 deaths, according to a New York Times database, more than any other county in the state.

Even before Monday, Mr. Trump made clear that he would blame Mr. Cooper and Ms. Lyles, who is also a Democrat, if the convention is altered or modified.

He told a writer for The Washington Examiner in a recent interview that he is a “traditionalist” and that he wants a typical convention. The Republican National Committee’s rules call for an in-person convention, and the party’s chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, recently told reporters that a virtual convention held online isn’t under consideration.


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated May 20, 2020

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      Over 38 million people have filed for unemployment since March. One in five who were working in February reported losing a job or being furloughed in March or the beginning of April, data from a Federal Reserve survey released on May 14 showed, and that pain was highly concentrated among low earners. Fully 39 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work, compared with 13 percent in those making more than $100,000, a Fed official said.

    • Is ‘Covid toe’ a symptom of the disease?

      There is an uptick in people reporting symptoms of chilblains, which are painful red or purple lesions that typically appear in the winter on fingers or toes. The lesions are emerging as yet another symptom of infection with the new coronavirus. Chilblains are caused by inflammation in small blood vessels in reaction to cold or damp conditions, but they are usually common in the coldest winter months. Federal health officials do not include toe lesions in the list of coronavirus symptoms, but some dermatologists are pushing for a change, saying so-called Covid toe should be sufficient grounds for testing.

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

    • How can I help?

      Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can give blood through the American Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in major cities.


Republicans helping to prepare for the convention have discussed things like replicating the N.F.L.’s recent virtual draft, but people involved in the planning stressed that if convention officials tried something like that, it would not be to supplant an in-person event.

Before the coronavirus spread across the country, Republicans were planning an elaborate convention where Mr. Trump would formally be nominated for a second time.

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