Houston - This week's What's Your Point panel; Charles Blain, founder of Urban reform, Houston attorney Michele Maples, Antonio Diaz, writer, educator and host of Latino Politics and News, Carmen Roe, Fox 26 legal analyst, Bill King, businessman, and columnist join Greg Groogan talking about President Trump's campaign rallies
WASHINGTON (AP) - June 27, 2020 Vice President Mike Pence called off campaign events in Florida and Arizona this coming week as the states experience a surge in new coronavirus cases.
Pence will still travel to those states, which have set records for new confirmed infections in recent days, the White House confirmed, saying he will meet with governors and their health teams.
Pence said Friday during a briefing by the White House’s coronavirus task force that he would be visiting Florida, Texas and Arizona to receive a “ground report” on spiking cases of COVD-19 across the region. The three states’ Republican governors have come under criticism for pushing for aggressive reopening after virus-related lockdowns as cases in the states rise.
Pence is traveling to Dallas on Sunday to attend a “Celebrate Freedom Rally” at First Baptist Church Dallas before meeting with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. But planned political events later in the week have been pushed off.
On Tuesday, Pence was supposed to address a Trump-Pence campaign “Faith in America” event in Tuscon, Arizona, before meeting Gov. Doug Ducey in Yuma. The campaign event has been postponed.
In Florida on Thursday, Pence was to embark on a bus tour, including an appearance in Lake Wales at an event organized by the pro-Trump group America First Policies billed as the “Great American Comeback tour.” The group announced that “out of an abundance of caution at this time, we are postponing the Great American Comeback tour stop in Florida. We look forward to rescheduling soon.”
The Sarasota County Republican Party confirmed in a note to supporters that Pence’s campaign event along the Gulf Coast of the state was also postponed. He was still set to meet with Gov. Ron DeSantis.
NEW YORK (AP) - June 22, 2020 President Donald Trump’s return to the campaign trail was designed to show strength and enthusiasm heading into the critical final months before an election that will decide whether he remains in the White House.
Instead, his weekend rally in Oklahoma highlighted growing vulnerabilities and crystallized a divisive reelection message that largely ignores broad swaths of voters — independents, suburban women and people of color — who could play a crucial role in choosing Trump or Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
The lower-than-expected turnout at the comeback rally, in particular, left Trump fuming.
“There’s really only one strategy left for him, and that is to propel that rage and anger and try to split the society and see if he can have a tribal leadership win here,” former Trump adviser-turned-critic Anthony Scaramucci said on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”
The Republican president did not offer even a token reference to national unity in remarks that spanned more than an hour and 40 minutes at his self-described campaign relaunch as the nation grappled with surging coronavirus infections, the worst unemployment since the Great Depression and sweeping civil unrest.
Nor did Trump mention George Floyd, the African American man whose death at the hands of Minnesota police late last month sparked a national uprising over police brutality. But he did add new fuel to the nation’s culture wars, defending Confederate statues while making racist references to the coronavirus, which originated in China and which he called “kung flu.” He also said Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, who came to the U.S. as a refugee, “would like to make the government of our country just like the country from where she came, Somalia.”
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended Trump’s use of the term “kung flu,” telling reporters Monday: “What the president does do is point to the fact that the origin of the virus is China. It’s a fair thing to point out as China tries to ridiculously rewrite history,” she said. “What President Trump is saying, ’no China, I will label this virus for its place of origin.’”
Trump won the presidency in 2016 with a similar red-meat message aimed largely at energizing conservatives and white working-class men. But less than four months before early voting begins in some states, there are signs that independents and educated voters — particularly suburban women — have turned against him. Republican strategists increasingly believe that only a dramatic turnaround in the economy can revive his reelection aspirations.
“It’s bad,” said Republican operative Rick Tyler, a frequent Trump critic. “There’s literally nothing to run on. The only thing he can say is that Biden is worse.”
But the day after Trump’s Tulsa rally, the president’s message was almost an afterthought as aides tried to explain away a smaller-than-expected crowd that left the president outraged.
Trump’s political team spent days proclaiming that more than 1 million people had requested tickets. They also ignored health warnings from the White House coronavirus task force and Oklahoma officials, eager to host an event that would help him move past the civil rights protests and the coronavirus itself.
His first rally in 110 days was meant to be a defiant display of political force to help energize Trump’s spirits, try out some attacks on Biden and serve as a powerful symbol of American’s reopening.
Instead, the city fire marshal’s office reported a crowd of just less than 6,200 in the 19,000-seat BOK Center, and at least six staff members who helped set up the event tested positive for the coronavirus. The vast majority of the attendees, including Trump, did not wear face masks as recommended by the Trump administration’s health experts.
After the rally, the president berated aides over the turnout. He fumed that he had been led to believe he would see huge crowds in deep-red Oklahoma, according to two White House and campaign officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.
There was no sign of an imminent staff shakeup, but members of Trump’s inner circle angrily questioned how campaign manager Brad Parscale and other senior aides could so wildly overpromise and underdeliver, according to the officials.
Publicly, Trump’s team scrambled to blame the crowd size on media coverage and protesters outside the venue, but the small crowds of pre-rally demonstrators were largely peaceful. Tulsa police reported just one arrest Saturday afternoon.
Before Oklahoma, the campaign had planned to finalize and announce its next rally this week. Trump is already scheduled to make appearances Tuesday in Arizona and Thursday in Wisconsin. Both are major general election battlegrounds.
At least one swing state governor, meanwhile, says Trump would not be welcome to host a rally in her state amid the pandemic.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said she “would think very seriously about” trying to block Trump from hosting a rally there if he wanted to.
“We know that congregating without masks, especially at an indoor facility, is the worst thing to do in the midst of a global pandemic,” Whitmer said in an interview before the Oklahoma event, conceding that she wasn’t aware of the specific legal tools she had available to block a prospective Trump rally. “I just know we have limitations on the number of people that can gather and that we’re taking this seriously.”
Biden’s campaign, meanwhile, seized on a fresh opportunity to poke at the incumbent president, suggesting that Trump “was already in a tailspin” because of his mismanagement of the pandemic and civil rights protests.
“Donald Trump has abdicated leadership, and it is no surprise that his supporters have responded by abandoning him,” Biden spokesperson Andrew Bates said.