National Review Denounces QAnon-Supporting GOP Senate Nominee

Conservative publication the National Review took the rare step of denouncing a GOP Senate candidate over her belief in the QAnon conspiracy theory.

Jo Rae Perkins, Oregon’s Republican nominee in this year’s Senate race, should be “shunned and repudiated” for her belief in a dangerous, baseless conspiracy theory, the publication said in an editorial Saturday.

“Perkins is an unreconstructed exponent of a batty and corrosive conspiracy theory running a longshot campaign that carries only political downside for Republicans,” the editorial reads. “They should do what they can to distance themselves from her candidacy.”

The QAnon theory, which began in 2017, posits that President Donald Trump is involved in stopping a pedophile network of Satan-worshipping cannibals who have infiltrated every level of government and the mass media. Believers follow “Q” an anonymous person who claims to be in a high-level government position and who leaves vague clues about supposed future mass arrests that never happen.

That hasn’t stopped Q’s legion of followers from falling down countless absurd rabbit holes that have also led to dangerous real-world consequences. And when Perkins won her primary by a landslide, she came out in full support of the extremist group.

“I stand with Q and the team,” she said in a Twitter video. “Thank you, Anons, and thank you, patriots. And together, we can save our republic.”

Her campaign retracted Perkins’ endorsement of QAnon on Wednesday, and Perkins said in a new video she “would never describe herself as a follower.”

A day later, Perkins went against her own campaign, telling ABC News she was “literally physically in tears” at having to read the statement.

“My campaign is gonna kill me,” Perkins told the outlet. “How do I say this? Some people think that I follow Q like I follow Jesus. Q is the information and I stand with the information resource.”

Now, the National Review is calling for Republicans to denounce the conspiracy theorist. More from the editorial:

QAnon is a story of exploitation, in which some digitally literate person (or group of people) strings along the gullible with a fanciful story, inviting them to work together to decode clues and discuss lore. It is also a story of radicalization, in which skepticism about the Mueller investigation or distrust of political institutions mutates into a fantasy world in which the American elite is full of Jeffrey Epsteins. We don’t know whether Perkins is a cynic or a true believer, but whatever the case, she should be shunned and repudiated.

Perkins’ campaign did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Read the full editorial at the National Review here.

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Democrats Pin Hopes On Social Security In Iowa Senate Race

Theresa Greenfield, 56, grew up on a farm that went under during the 1980s farm crisis, lost her first husband in an industrial accident and later ran a family-owned real estate firm in Des Moines.

Greenfield’s story is one that Democratic strategists normally only dream about. But when the front-runner for Iowa’s Democratic Senate nomination tells her tale of rural roots, perseverance and business savvy, she is also keen to emphasize the social solidarity that made it all possible.

Greenfield reminds voters that when husband Rodney Wirtjes, an electrical lineman, was electrocuted in June 1988, his union ― the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers ― was there for her. The union’s health care benefits ensured that she and their kids were covered, its members shoveled her driveway that winter, and union officials informed her about Social Security’s survivors benefits for widows with small children. Greenfield’s first son was 18 months old at the time and she was pregnant with her second child.

“You don’t get rich on Social Security, but you’re not supposed to,” Greenfield told HuffPost. “It’s an earned benefit for hardworking families so they can get back on their feet and people don’t go into poverty, and that’s exactly what it did for me.”

The candidate has a cheerful, plain-spoken way of talking, even when it’s a subject that inspires sadness or anger.

“When it comes to Social Security, it’s one of those fights that I’ll carry in my heart,” she said, sounding excited by the prospect of a brawl to protect the social insurance program.

Social Security is at the heart of Greenfield’s kitchen-table-focused pitch to Iowans, over 1 in 5 of whom receive its benefits. Greenfield is vying to unseat Republican Sen. Joni Ernst, 49, who is seeking a second term and has made comments suggesting she is open to cutting benefits.

“If voters really value Social Security, they will elect a leader who values Social Security,” Greenfield said.

Democrats have been running as guardians of Social Security virtually from the moment the party created the program in 1935. But the issue tends to be most effective for Democrats when they can point to a clear, looming threat to the program’s benefits like in the 2006 midterm elections. Now, Democrats believe that Republicans have made just enough noise to give credence to claims that the GOP is targeting the program again.

The economic havoc wrought by the coronavirus pandemic and governments’ response to it is likely to make running on Social Security that much more effective, according to Tyler Law, a Democratic consultant who was previously a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. 

“In times like these, where people’s economic situation is uncertain and feels very perilous, a message on retirement security ― whether that be Social Security or Medicare ― is very potent,” he said.

To get her shot at Ernst, Greenfield first needs to dispatch three Democratic rivals in the June 2 primary: businessman Eddie Mauro, retired Navy Adm. Mike Franken and progressive attorney Kimberly Graham.

Most Iowa politics watchers believe Greenfield has already locked up the nomination, however. Thanks in part to the early endorsement of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, she has nearly $3 million more in cash than Mauro, her closest competitor. She is also backed by virtually all of the state’s prominent elected Democrats, labor unions and reproductive rights groups.

Referring to the support she received from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers after her first husband’s death, Greenfield said that unions have “given me a hand up and I’m going to have their back as the next senator here in Iowa.”

Turning Iowa Blue

In Democrats’ discussions of how to retake the Senate, Iowa doesn’t quite rank in the top tier of possible pickups like Colorado, Arizona, Maine and North Carolina.

But it’s a solid runner-up alongside states like Montana. 

“Iowa is a really strong offensive opportunity for us,” said Stewart Boss, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which is the official campaign arm of Senate Democrats. “It could be a critical path to the majority.”

Given some recent losses, it’s easy to forget that Iowa, where Democratic presidential candidates recently spent months courting caucus-goers, was once a state where Democrats were regularly competitive in statewide and national races.

President Barack Obama won Iowa twice. Then, in 2016, Donald Trump took the state by nearly 10 percentage points ― part of an electoral streak that won over historically Democratic voters across the industrial Midwest.

But unlike in Ohio, where Trump had been victorious by a similar margin, Democrats had enormous success in Iowa House races during the 2018 midterm elections. The party flipped two House seats and nearly defeated Republican Rep. Steve King in the state’s most conservative district. And while Democrats narrowly lost the governorship, they took control of the state auditor’s office.

Suburban voters, who have been shifting away from Republicans under Trump, powered Democrats’ surge in Iowa two years ago. The party also recouped some of its traditional blue-collar constituency in manufacturing communities along the Mississippi River.

In this election cycle, the contests for all four of the state’s House seats, including two where incumbent Democrats are running for reelection, are due to be competitive, potentially providing upstream momentum ― or “reverse coattails” ― for Greenfield.

“That movement is going to continue in 2020,” predicted Jeff Link, a Des Moines-based Democratic strategist. “That is really troubling for Ernst and it’s troubling for Trump.”

Indeed, at this point in the 2018 cycle, Iowa Republicans had a voter registration edge of over 48,000. As of May 1, though, there were over 9,000 more registered Democrats in the state.

The Social Security Edge?

Greenfield, who has an Upper Midwest accent that hints at her roots across the border in Minnesota, said her experience with Social Security is an instant source of connection with prospective voters across Iowa. She estimates that at least one person at each of her more than 100 campaign events has told her that Social Security survivors benefits were a vital lifeline for them too when they lost a spouse or a parent. 

“I get these stories truly almost everywhere I go across the state so I know that Social Security has been unifying in keeping them out of poverty and giving them that hand up,” she said. 

Adopting the preservation of Social Security as a core priority is a no-brainer for Greenfield ― and not just because of her personal story. The New Deal program is also the subject of a major political flub by Ernst. The incumbent senator told constituents at a town hall meeting last September that members of Congress from both parties should discuss reforming Social Security “behind closed doors.”

Democrats immediately seized on her remarks as code for the kind of back-room “grand bargain” that was fashionable to push in the years immediately after the 2008 financial crisis but that has since fallen out of favor in both parties.

What’s more, Ernst had spoken favorably about partially or completely privatizing Social Security during her 2014 Senate run. At a primary debate in May 2014, she discussed the need to look at “transitioning our younger workers onto individual plans or individual savings accounts.” She was more explicit at a forum for seniors in September of that year, saying, “I have talked about privatizing Social Security as an option.” 

A broad range of people on the ideological left and right have criticized proposals to allow Americans to invest their payroll tax contributions to Social Security on their own ― and thus, to privatize the program. These critics maintain that shifting the risk of market investments away from the government and onto individuals could jeopardize Americans’ retirement income by making it more dependent on swings in the stock market and the fees of fund managers. A 2005 proposal by President George W. Bush to partially privatize Social Security died amid political backlash, helping hand Congress to Democrats in the 2006 midterm elections.

Ernst’s campaign did not respond to detailed requests for comment. But in September, spokeswoman Kelsi Daniell told The Washington Post that the senator meant to highlight how even discussing changes to Social Security has become taboo.

“Just as Senator Ernst predicted, we can’t have honest conversations about solving problems anymore without liberals and their media allies trying to demonize it and create a faux controversy,” Daniell said in a statement to the Post. “Senator Ernst has always and will continue to stand up and fight to protect Social Security now and for generations to come.” 

In keeping with an approach that is moderate by national standards, Greenfield has not signed on to some of the more ambitious Social Security expansion bills circulating in Congress. She is instead a supporter of the Swift Act, a bill introduced by Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) that would expand eligibility for survivors benefits, including for disabled widows and widowers. She also wants to protect Social Security Administration offices, which are especially valued in rural communities, from administrative budget cuts that have prompted dozens of office closures in the past decade. 

As for plugging Social Security’s funding gap, which is due to force automatic benefit cuts in 2035 absent congressional action, Greenfield keeps her recommendations broad but progressive.

“The wealthiest in this nation, the biggest corporations need to pay their fair share,” she said.

The combination of Ernst’s comments and Greenfield’s connection to the program prompted Social Security Works PAC, which supports candidates committed to expanding Social Security, to make its first endorsement in a contested Democratic primary. Jon Bauman, president of the PAC and the former “Sha Na Na” singer known as Bowzer, joined Greenfield for a rally via video chat in late April. (Plans for a musical tour of the state to promote Greenfield are tentatively on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.)

“Theresa Greenfield has literally lived the value of Social Security survivors benefits,” Bauman told HuffPost. “She is able to connect with her voters in a way that you can’t without that personal story.”

Democrats contend that Republicans are now eyeing cutbacks to the popular program. In particular, they note that the Trump tax cuts contributed $2 trillion to the national debt and thereby created the fiscal conditions for Republicans to make their case for restricting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Then-House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) appeared to validate Democrats’ fears with his remarks in December 2017 calling for “entitlement reform” shortly after the tax cuts passed.

Four months later, Democrat Conor Lamb won a special election for a southwest Pennsylvania House district where Trump had won by almost 20 points in 2016. Lamb had seized on Ryan’s comments in a 30-second TV ad, saying that Ryan used the term “entitlement reform” to “talk about Social Security and Medicare as if it’s undeserved or it’s some form of welfare, but it’s not any of those things.”

National Democrats saw Lamb’s successful connection of the Trump tax cuts to the possibility of future Social Security reductions as a test run for the 2018 midterms, when dozens of other Democrats would wield similar arguments to help the party take control of the House.

And while Trump promised as a candidate that he would protect Social Security from cuts, he told a CNBC interviewer this January that “at some point” he would “look” at making unspecified changes to Social Security and Medicare. Now some White House economic officials are floating the idea of allowing Americans to get as much as $5,000 in stimulus money that they would pay for by delaying their eligibility for Social Security benefits.

Social Security Works, the nonprofit arm of the PAC that Bauman runs, called the plan “cruel and ridiculous” in a Monday tweet.

“Social Security is not a piggy bank,” the group said.

Holding Together A Tenuous Coalition

Iowa Democrats are increasingly concentrated in metropolitan Des Moines and a handful of other cities. The party’s two previous candidates for the governorship and Senate were partly hobbled by a sense that they were out of touch with the state’s vast rural regions.

Greenfield, a current Des Moines resident and successful businesswoman, nonetheless expresses a passion for rural issues that she credits to her upbringing as the daughter of a farmer and crop duster. 

“So many small towns, like the one I grew up by and all of them in that area, they’re really struggling and they’ve been hollowed out,” she said.

Greenfield worries about the twin pressures on Iowa farmers of a trade war that has obstructed their access to Chinese markets and the Trump administration’s efforts to relax rules requiring oil refineries to use corn-based ethanol and other biofuels to make gasoline. Reversing both policies would be a top priority for her in Congress.

Asked whether tougher enforcement of antitrust laws against giant agriculture companies, which a new movement of experts and activists blames for squeezing family farms, is part of her agenda, Greenfield said it was a longer-term priority.

“We’ve got to level that playing field and make sure that we rebuild those markets for our farmers so they can compete and they have choices too for their inputs, their sales,” she said. “But right now, honestly, the number one thing I hear from them is, ‘We need our markets back,’ so they can just start turning a profit and then can go on to have some of these other fights that they want to have.”

Greenfield is not exactly an heir to the prairie populism of Iowa legend Tom Harkin, the last Democrat to represent the Hawkeye State in the Senate. When asked why she thinks farmers and other working families have seen key living costs go up for the past three decades even as their incomes have stagnated, Greenfield did not have a diagnosis. “I’m not going to sit here and guess why or who or how,” she said.

And Greenfield is unafraid to break with the activist left’s newer touchstones. She prefers a public health care option to “Medicare for All” and dismisses the Green New Deal as a non-starter. 

That could matter in a state where Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) won the popular vote in the Democratic caucuses in February. 

National Republicans hope that intra-party resentment at the Democratic establishment’s effort to anoint Greenfield over a more progressive contender like Kimberly Graham makes it harder for her to generate the turnout she needs in November.

The GOP points to Greenfield’s reliance on the support of Democratic leadership PACs that accept corporate donations, despite her refusal to accept corporate funds directly. Iowa Voices, an independent Democratic group that has looser disclosure requirements, has also managed to pour untold sums into ripping Ernst on television.

“National Democrats really just haven’t been able to generate any enthusiasm behind their candidate,” said Jesse Hunt, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm. “They’re spending a lot of special interest money to try to push Theresa Greenfield on Iowa voters.”

Conservative outlets and Democratic rival Eddie Mauro have also tried to shine a light on some controversial elements of Greenfield’s business record.

Thus far, though, there’s little evidence that Iowa’s most progressive voters are prepared to abandon the Democratic Party if Greenfield is the nominee.

Bob Morrison, a retired union machinist in the industrial town of Burlington, was active in Sanders’ 2020 bid and now supports Graham. But Greenfield’s ties to organized labor have inspired him to feel warmly toward her as well.

“I like Theresa,” he said. “I know she’s very strong on labor because of her husband.”

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Top Lindsey Graham Donor Switches Sides, Now Backs Democratic Rival

A top donor to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is switching sides.

Richard Wilkerson, former head of Michelin’s North America unit, based in Greenville, South Carolina, has endorsed Democrat Jaime Harrison.

Wilkerson told the Charleston Post and Courier that he got to know Harrison when he worked as a lobbyist for the company on issues such as setting new tire standards for better fuel efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

The newspaper said Wilkerson has contributed more than $10,000 to Graham since 2011 and served on the South Carolina finance committee of his brief attempt at running for president in 2015. 

Wilkerson told The Hill in a statement that Harrison will be a “tireless advocate” for improving the economy, healthcare and job training. 

“Jaime is the perfect candidate to bring together South Carolinians from all walks of life,” he said. “I am proud to endorse Jaime today, and I know first hand he is the change South Carolina needs.”

The website noted that, despite his longtime support for Graham, Wilkerson has donated to Democrats and Republicans alike over the years.   

Harrison celebrated the endorsement on Twitter:

Graham has won by double-digit margins in each of his three previous Senate races on the solid red state. There is little polling in his 2020 race so far; a partisan poll in March showed Harrison trailing him by just 4 percentage points, but a Marist College poll in February had Graham up by 17 points, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Cook Political Report rates the seat a “Solid R.”

But though Graham leads in limited polls, Harrison is outraising him this year so far, bringing in $7.36 million over the first three months versus $5.6 million for Graham. 

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Hillary Clinton To Endorse Joe Biden In 2020 Race

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party’s 2016 presidential nominee, will endorse former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 race on Tuesday, several outlets reported. 

Clinton is set to join Biden at a Tuesday town hall.

Biden became the presumptive Democratic nominee after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) dropped out of the race on April 8, ending hopes that a progressive challenger would take on President Donald Trump in November.

When Sanders endorsed Biden a week later, he stressed the importance of defeating Trump. The senator acknowledged there were significant policy differences between his democratic socialism and Biden’s moderate views, but said their teams plan to create joint task forces to develop policy positions on key issues like the economy, climate change, criminal justice and immigration.

“I’m asking every Democrat, I’m asking every independent, I’m asking a lot of Republicans, to come together in this campaign to support your candidacy, which I endorse,” Sanders said on a livestream with his former rival.

Sanders’ endorsement this round came much earlier than his endorsement of Clinton four years ago following a competitive race for the Democratic nomination. The senator waited until June 2016 to drop out of that contest and then withheld his endorsement from Clinton for over a month ― a move his critics attacked as too late to help Democrats beat Trump in the general election and a step his supporters believed he was forced to take to avoid being ostracized at the Democratic National Convention. 

Clinton has not hidden her feelings about Sanders in recent months. In her Hulu documentary and a January interview promoting it, the former secretary of state gave a candid perspective on her onetime rival.

“He was in Congress for years,” she said in the documentary. “He had one senator support him. Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done. He was a career politician. It’s all just baloney, and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it.” In her interview with The Hollywood Reporter, she said she stood by that assessment.

Though she did not apologize for her remarks, Clinton later clarified that she would “do whatever” she could to support the Democratic nominee this year, regardless of her opinions, because “the number one priority for our country and world is retiring Trump.”

Clinton’s backing of Biden will come on the heels of another long-awaited endorsement from former President Barack Obama. Obama publicly threw his support behind his close friend and former vice president on Tuesday, April 14, breaking his silence in the primary one day after Sanders made his endorsement.

“Joe has the character and the experience to guide us through one of our darkest times and heal us through a long recovery,” Obama said in a 12-minute video. “And I know he’ll surround himself with good people ― experts, scientists, military officials ― who actually know how to run the government and care about doing a good job running the government, and know how to work with our allies, and who will always put the American people’s interests above their own.”

Obama waited until Sanders dropped out of the race to endorse Biden, declining for months to insert himself into the primary. Sources close to the 44th president told CNN in early March that he would probably not offer any endorsements while Democratic candidates campaigned against each other because “weighing in now likely only divides things worse and weakens his standing for when the party will need it most.”

Biden suggested to Politico in December that he didn’t need a formal endorsement from Obama “because everyone knows I’m close with him.” But he still expressed his gratitude for the endorsement when it came, saying the former president’s support “means the world to Jill and me.”

Biden is expected to receive the nomination at this year’s Democratic convention, which has been moved to mid-August due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Joe Biden Under Pressure From Progressives To Cut Out Larry Summers

Progressive groups are protesting news that Larry Summers is advising presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s presidential campaign on economic policy, calling on the former vice president to cut ties with the former Obama administration adviser who is something of a bogeyman for those in the left flank of the Democratic Party.

Summers is among dozens of economists currently informally advising the campaign, Bloomberg first reported Thursday. HuffPost later confirmed the report with the Biden campaign.

Biden’s campaign has yet to build a substantial in-house policy team, and has largely relied on outside advisers to inform policy and positions throughout the campaign. Summers’ presence within this circle of outside advisers was met with an outpouring of criticism from progressive groups.

Two groups aligned with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Justice Democrats and the Sunrise Movement, started a petition on Friday in which they call on Biden to no longer use Summers as an adviser.

“Larry Summers’s legacy is advocating for policies that contributed to the skyrocketing inequality and climate crisis we’re living with today,” the groups said in a joint statement. “Joe Biden has a major trust gap that he must overcome with progressives and voters under 45 who voted overwhelmingly against him in the primary and who he’ll need to defeat Donald Trump.”

Summers has long been one of the most exalted economists in the world. He had roles in the Reagan, Clinton and Obama administrations and has served as the chief economist at the World Bank. He is known for his deep ties to Wall Street and Silicon Valley and for repeatedly backing bailouts for big financial institutions, and has been criticized for leaving middle-class workers with little assistance. It is precisely Summers’ kind of economic thinking that led to the rise of movements like Occupy Wall Street and the unexpected support for Sanders’ two presidential runs after the Great Recession. 

Progressive groups have long been lobbying to take down Summers. Naomi Klein, a progressive author and activist, argued to “banish” Summers from public life in a 2009 column in The Washington Post. In 2013, a coalition of activist groups and progressive lawmakers — including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who clashed with Summers during the 2008 financial crisis — successfully tanked Summers’ nomination as Federal Reserve chairman. 

Biden’s campaign tried to downplay Summers’ role, saying he was one of many economists it has consulted and that he holds no formal position within the campaign. (The Biden team has turned to Summers before, reportedly referring journalists to him when they sought comment on Warren’s health care plan last year.)

“Our campaign is in touch with a very large and well-rounded informal network of experts, on the economy, public health, and many other issues,” a Biden campaign aide told HuffPost. The aide noted that the campaign also seeks advice from people such as Jared Bernstein, who served as an economic adviser under the Obama administration, and Heather Boushey, who runs a think tank about income inequality.

“Joe Biden’s will be the most progressive agenda of any president in generations, and he looks forward to his continuing engagement with progressive leaders to build on his existing policies and further the bold goals driving his campaign,” the aide said in a statement.

Summers was a fierce critic of some of the most progressive policy ideas floated during the Democratic primary. He said Warren’s signature wealth tax proposal was “approaching confiscatory” and should be seen as a last resort, and he called her plan to transition to a single-payer “Medicare For All” system “dangerous” — two critiques Biden echoed on the campaign trail.

The news about Summers advising Biden comes as groups including Demand Progress and Revolving Door Project look to find ways to influence the campaign’s future personnel picks. More than two dozen good government and ethics groups published an open letter on Thursday in which they called on Biden to make the campaign’s personnel-picking process more transparent.

“People like Larry Summers, and others of his archetype ― Larry Fink, Jamie Dimon, Tom Nides ― have no place in Democratic politics at this juncture. We need to elevate people who aren’t responsible for crises,” David Segal, who runs Demand Progress, said in reference to potential, but unconfirmed, Biden administration picks named in an Axios report. 

“In the primary Biden benefited from his association with Obama, but it’s very hard to transfer that shine to Larry Summers,” Segal said, noting that more people are attuned to that shift in politics these days.

Biden pledged to win over progressive voters when Sanders endorsed his candidacy earlier this month, and he pledged to “not let [Sanders] down.” The Sanders and Biden campaigns have been negotiating six task forces on policy and personnel. Neither campaign has announced who will be on those task forces.

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Bernie Sanders Endorses Joe Biden For President

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign on Monday, appearing on a livestream with his former rival for the Democratic nomination to stress the importance of defeating President Donald Trump.

“I’m asking every Democrat, I’m asking every independent, I’m asking a lot of Republicans, to come together in this campaign to support your candidacy, which I endorse,” Sanders, who dropped out of the 2020 presidential race last week, told Biden.

Democrats hope Sanders’ speedy endorsement of Biden will help heal the party following a primary that revealed sharp ideological disagreements among the party’s core supporters and left many of Sanders’ young supporters disillusioned. While early public opinion surveys show Biden with a lead over Trump, his margin among young voters is smaller than the advantages Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama had during their presidential campaigns. 

Sanders acknowledged there were significant policy differences between his vision of democratic socialism and Biden’s center-left views, but he said the campaigns would create joint task forces to develop policy positions on key issues, including on the economy, education, criminal justice, immigration and climate change.

“Your endorsement means a great deal to me,” Biden told the senator. “I’m going to need you, not just to campaign, but to govern.”

Sanders has pledged to support the Democratic nominee since launching his presidential campaign in early 2019. Since suspending his own run for the White House, he has said his advisers would continue working with Biden’s team to present a united front. Sanders joins a long list of former Democratic presidential candidates who have thrown their support behind Biden. One notable exception is Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

Biden has signaled openness to shifting his agenda left. He said he supported canceling student debt for a large portion of Americans who make less than $125,000 a year, and has also adopted a Warren proposal to repeal a bankruptcy law he once championed.

Biden’s opening bid to progressives has been met with mixed reviews. Some of Sanders’ top surrogates have balked at the proposals. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) told The New York Times she felt Biden wasn’t making a serious effort to reach out to the left wing of the party.

“The whole process of coming together should be uncomfortable for everyone involved — that’s how you know it’s working,” she said. “And if Biden is only doing things he’s comfortable with, then it’s not enough.”

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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TV Hosts Fail To Ask Joe Biden Questions About Sexual Assault Allegation

A former Senate aide to Joe Biden accused him this week of sexually assaulting her nearly 30 years ago. But television hosts who have interviewed the former vice president since she went public with her allegation have so far failed to ask him about it.

In an interview with podcast host Katie Halper published in part on Wednesday, Tara Reade said she had been working in Biden’s Senate office in 1993 when he kissed her and penetrated her with his fingers without her consent. Biden’s presidential campaign has denied the allegation.

Since Wednesday, Biden has appeared on CNN and NBC, as well as a makeshift quarantine edition of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” that aired on YouTube. But none of the hosts broached the subject of the recent assault claim.

Neither ABC, CNN nor NBC immediately responded to HuffPost’s requests for comment.

On Thursday, Kimmel tweeted his interview with Biden as part of his “mini monologue” during an episode of his show, filmed at this home during the coronavirus pandemic. The two joked about baseball and discussed ways to curb the spread of the virus. The sexual assault allegation never came up. To be fair, most late night hosts don’t often ask hard-hitting questions.

The next day, Biden sat for an hourlong, live town hall hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Though the event was primarily focused on the ongoing pandemic, some viewers criticized the network for not including at least one question about the allegation.

“How does CNN host a town hall with Joe Biden and not ask about the former senate aide who has publicly accused him of sexual assault?” tweeted journalist Michael Sainato.

On Sunday, Biden appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” a weekly political talk show where host Chuck Todd often takes Trump administration officials to task. 

“Just consider all that’s happened since the last time we had former Vice President Joe Biden on ‘Meet The Press,’” said Todd, pointing to Biden’s numerous primary victories, the spread of the coronavirus nationwide, and the surge of Americans filing unemployment claims as a result. 

Todd made no mention of the sexual assault allegation, however.

TV personalities have asked Trump to his face about numerous sexual misconduct allegations against him over the years, making it all the more noteworthy that the accusation against Biden has gone largely ignored on the medium. (However, Sunday show hosts, including Todd, largely ignored E. Jean Carroll’s rape allegation against Trump when it first came out last June.)

The Hill’s Krystal Ball interviewed Reade on Friday for “Rising,” a weekday morning show that streams on Hill.tv.

“What I remember at that time is feeling really shocked,” Reade said while describing the alleged assault. “I was surprised. There was no conversation right beforehand. There was no precursor. It just happened.”

Some journalists have questioned Reade’s credibility, pointing to a pro-Kremlin post she authored in December 2018 that has since been deleted.

“Why would a liberal democrat support [Russian President] Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin?” she wrote. “Maybe it is because I believe he has saved the world from a large conflict on more than one occasion.”

Reade told Vox News that she initially supported Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in the presidential race but now supports Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Her assault claim follows accusations of inappropriate touching by multiple women, including former Nevada Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, who alleged Biden smelled her hair and kissed the back of her head without consent. Since going public, Flores has said she doesn’t believe his actions should disqualify him as a presidential candidate and that she would still potentially vote for him.

Biden said in April 2019, following the allegations of inappropriate touching from Flores and others, that he would be “more mindful” of his physical contact.

In response to Reade’s allegation, Kate Bedingfield, the communications director for Biden’s campaign, said in a statement that “women have a right to tell their story, and reporters have an obligation to rigorously vet those claims.”

“We encourage them to do so, because these accusations are false,” she said.

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