All eyes will turn Tuesday night to first lady Melania Trump as she headlines the second night of the Republican National Convention. The speech falls on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment that granted 26 million women the right to vote, though electoral equality came decades later for many women of color. CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga says Melania Trump paid tribute Monday to the suffrage movement’s landmark centennial, praising her husband at an official White House event. “Since taking office my husband and this administration have taken historic measures to empower and support women in the United States — and around the world,” FLOTUS remarked.
The first lady’s GOP convention keynote will not only feature new renovations in the White House Rose Garden, but President Trump himself, who will join his wife for her most high-profile remarks since the 2016 Republican Nation Convention. Four years ago, Melania Trump was accused of plagiarizing Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic National Convention speech. This time around, White House and campaign officials are carefully planning the address, with top adviser to the first lady and 2020 RNC chair Marcia Lee Kelly helping craft Tuesday night’s affair. Known for her discretion, the primetime address marks a rare high-profile address for the first lady and comes as the Trump campaign seeks to attract more suburban women to the polls in November. A recent CBS News battleground tracker poll shows Biden leads Trump among suburban women by 57% to 39%.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – appearing in a pre-taped address from Jerusalem – will also address audiences on the GOP’s second night of festivities. Diplomats under the Hatch Act are prohibited by law from mixing official work with political campaigning. Pompeo’s appearance at a party convention during an official overseas trip has raised eyebrows, with U.S. taxpayers are footing the bill. Other speakers include two Trump children – Eric and Tiffany Trump, plus Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.
FROM THE CANDIDATES
With 70 days to go until the November election, Joe Biden’s campaign called the first night of the Republican National Convention a “parade of dark and divisive fear-mongering designed to distract from” the coronavirus pandemic, CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson reports. The campaign said the GOP did not lay out their vision forward to deal with the pandemic and Senator Cory Booker on a campaign call said he “find[s] a sort of authoritarian culture around the convention” due to what he perceives as the speeches lacking truthfulness. The Democrats on Tuesday are also criticizing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s decision to address the RNC while on official travel in Jerusalem. The Biden campaign says the Trump administration is perpetuating Israel as a “wedge issue” and said using an American ally as a “political prop” is “absolutely disgraceful.” For his part, Biden has no public events on his schedule this week. And after a week of questioning, Biden’s campaign said that both Biden and Kamala Harris will begin to receive COVID-19 tests on a “regular” basis and committed to publicizing the results if either of them tests positive.
CBS NEWS COVID CHRONICLES
MINNESOTA FARMING FOLLOW-UP
CBS News followed up with hog and soybean and corn farmers in Minnesota and how they are navigating their farms and their ability to get their products to market amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Minnesota farmers told CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman they are feeling optimistic, but they will be feeling a financial strain potentially going into next year. Mike Patterson, a hog farmer in Kenyon, Minnesota, said he has sold 600 pigs to local butcher shops, which is “excellent.” Patterson had scheduled deliveries to The Smithfield Foods, Inc. meat processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota earlier this spring. The plant temporarily closed due to a COVID-19 outbreak at the plant, but has since reopened. While Patterson, who is part of a co-op with about a dozen other families, has not had to depopulate recently, he noted the financial impact from COVID-19 lingers. “We’re looking at a lot of red ink from now until next summer,” Patterson added. “So, really, we’re looking at, you know, 10 months before you get into the black again.” Soybean and corn farmers in the state said Minnesota has had great weather, leading to good crops. Jamie Beyer, a soybean and corn farmer near Wheaton, Minnesota, said she feels optimistic, citing that prices are increasing and recent purchases from China. “In farming — just like a stock — … you don’t get your profit ’til you sell,” Beyer said. “The prices [are] good now and certainly people will hedge their crops and sell it, put into contracts ahead of time and whatnot. But, you know, we’re — we’re certainly always looking for stronger, stronger prices.”
ON THE AGENDA
Though Charlotte is no longer the host city for the entire Republican National Convention as originally planned, both Republicans and Democrats in North Carolina are still hosting programming around the RNC this week. Democrats began hosting a line-up of virtual town halls and conversations with North Carolina voters, targeting younger voters, farmers and minority-owned business owners in virtual conversations Monday. The North Carolina Republican Party made an appeal to local business owners too on Tuesday, hosting an in-person roundtable with small business leaders and local elected officials to discuss the impact of losing the party’s national convention. North Carolina GOP Chair Michael Whatley told CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell that over the next few days he hopes that the RNC speakers outline what he feels like are promises that have been kept by Mr. Trump. “When we look over the course of the next four years, we need a president who has the strength to be able to meet the challenges that are going to face America,” said Whatley. “We need to be able to defeat the coronavirus and rebuild our economy. We need to make sure that we’re going forward and creating jobs, that we’re giving every American child a choice for schools…” Whatley gave the nominating speech to re-nominate the president during the official business of the RNC in Charlotte Monday. He said that if he were in the line-up of RNC speakers throughout the rest of the week, he’d tell viewers in part that Americans should be optimistic looking forward. “We need to celebrate the best of the United States, and [Trump] is the president who has the strength and the vision to see that through and really make sure that every American has the opportunity to live the American dream.”
LISTEN TO THIS
In a new episode of “The Debrief with Major Garrett,” CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett explores the question: was this a lost summer? The episode features interviews with a variety of guests, including Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus, chairman and CEO of LabCorp Adam Schechter, and former CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden. “Without a doubt, it’s been a lost summer with reference to COVID-19, it’s been a lost late spring into summer,” said Dr. Ali Khan, the dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. “The United States is a unique failure in our response to COVID compared to all of our other peer countries.”
Drew Chavez, owner of an Phoenix-based petition-gathering firm, says that 75 paid staff are headed into Arizona to gather signatures for Kanye West ahead of the state’s September 4 deadline for independent candidates. As of Tuesday afternoon, 32 had so far registered with state election authorities to gather signatures for West from National Ballot Access. While West’s signature gathering efforts in some other states have been from a constellation of operatives, some reportedly with Republican ties, National Ballot Access head Edee Baggett is disputing characterizations of his own firm as right-leaning. “Considering I just worked on presidential Tulsi Gabbard and Marianne [Williamson], I think not,” Baggett told CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin in a text, claiming over half of his clients are Democrats. Baggett did not respond to an inquiry over whether West himself was paying for the signature gathering effort.
A general election ballot tracking tool is now available for voters in all of California’s 58 counties, an expansion of the program initially offered for 25 counties during the Presidential Primary Election in March, according to CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar. All voters in the state can sign up to receive notifications about their vote-by-mail ballots by signing up online. California secretary of state Alex Padilla said in a statement the tracking tool is one of the best ways voters in the state can prepare for the November election. “With every active, registered voter receiving a vote-by-mail ballot this fall, ballot tracking will be a critical part of our election planning,” Padilla said. Voters who sign up for the tracking tool can expect alerts when their ballots have been mailed by the county, received by the county, and counted by the county. A notification will also be sent if there are any issues with the voter’s ballot. Those who sign up will also get alerts from county elections offices about deadlines and updates for polling places.
In a sharp rebuke on Tuesday, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, has denied a plea from state secretary of state Barbara Cegavske, a Republican, for an “emergency regulation” to track “ballot harvesting” in the state. Citing procedural reasons for rejecting the request, Sisolak accused Cegavske of having “attempted to use the emergency regulation for what appears to be political reasons.” CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin reports Republicans in the state have long urged Cegavske to speak out against an election law passed in the state amid the pandemic. The Trump campaign is also currently suing Cegavske in federal court to roll back the measure, a case which the secretary’s attorneys recently filed an updated motion to dismiss. “Despite Republican attempts to curb turnout and limit Nevadans’ constitutional right to vote through partisan tactics and voter suppression efforts, Governor Sisolak stood firm to give every eligible Nevadan the option to vote safely in this critical election,” Molly Forgey, spokesperson for the state Democratic party, said in a statement.
Pennsylvania lawmakers and officials are at odds over how to handle a mail-in ballot timetable that the U.S. Postal Service said last month it can’t meet, according to CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak. The top Republicans in the GOP-controlled state Senate on Monday introduced a wide-ranging election bill that would move the mail-in ballot application deadline from seven days before Election Day to 15 days prior. That was in line with a recommendation U.S. Postal Service general council Thomas Marshall made to the Pennsylvania secretary of state, who in turn asked the state’s highest court to allow counties to count ballots postmarked by Election Day if they’re received within three days after Election Day. Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat who could veto the bill if it passes, is against the state Senate Republicans’ plan. “The governor is opposed to any proposal that would limit Pennsylvanians’ ability to vote,” his spokesperson Lyndsay Kensinger said in a statement Tuesday. “This proposal appears to do so by limiting the ability for individuals to cast mail ballots by reducing the number of days Pennsylvanian’s can request one.”
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers is declaring a state of emergency following protests related to the Sunday police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. according to CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster. As part of the state of emergency, Evers is calling up more members of the Wisconsin National Guard to respond to the protests. Evers sent 125 members of the Wisconsin National Guard to Kenosha on Monday night at the request of local officials, and is now expanding that to 250 members. On Tuesday, attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing Blake’s family, said Blake is paralyzed, adding that Blake was undergoing surgery and “struggling to sustain his life.” Crump said, “It is going to take a miracle for Jacob Blake Jr. to ever walk again.” Blake’s family also spoke to the media on Tuesday. “They shot my son seven times, seven times, like he didn’t matter. But my son matters. He’s a human being and he matters,” Blake’s father said at the press conference.
As voters prepare to participate in the General Election from home through vote-by-mail, experts say the lack of access to printers is a roadblock for many, especially younger voters, reports CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar. Vote.org CEO Andrea Hailey said that not having a printer “becomes a barrier to entry, especially in states where you have to print out your key applications” to register to vote. In at least 13 states, voters need to submit hard copy documents and physical signatures, or what Hailey called “wet signatures,” to register to vote. Vote.org is collaborating with Nextdoor, a community-based social networking site where neighbors share helpful information and discuss local issues, to build a “Voter Help Map.” The program allows Nextdoor members who own a printer to add themselves to the map and offer to help print voting materials for others. “The number one complaint that we hear at Vote.org from voters right now is that, many people, especially millennials, don’t have printers,” Hailey said. “Knowing that this is a big problem for people all across the country, we’re excited that Nextdoor is partnering with Vote.org to think about innovative ways to reach people where they are.” Prior to the pandemic, Hailey said voters often took advantage of public libraries and community hubs to print out their voting materials, but many of those places remain closed. Hailey said there are protocols in place for voters to interact with neighbors safely while keeping the risk of exposure low.
IN THE HOUSE
Some House campaigns in crucial districts for Republicans are launching their first ads this week, reports CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro. California candidate Young Kim, who ran in 2018 and is in a rematch with Democrat Gil Cisneros, kicked off her ad campaign by criticizing her opponent. “Gil Cisneros deceived us, just to get elected. Because Gil Cisneros puts his interests over ours,” the spot closes with, referencing his vote for Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker and claims that he had taken PAC dollars. Cisneros’ campaign has denied that he has taken any corporate PAC money. Nancy Mace, the GOP candidate in South Carolina’s 1st district, launched her first ad on cable TV Monday. The ad features her family talking about their veteran background. “I approve this message because talk is cheap, but low country values run deep,” she ends the ad with. It’s a similar tone to the third released ad from Joe Cunningham, Mace’s incumbent Democrat opponent, which also featured his family. Democrats have been flush with cash throughout the cycle, and thus have had more resources to crowd the airwaves in the months leading into the election. Cunningham has already launched five TV ads this cycle, and other vulnerable House Democrats like Max Rose in New York’s 11th district have been outpacing their challengers on ads. But Mace isn’t going on TV alone. The National Republican Congressional Committee released an ad Tuesday hitting Cunningham on the issue of lobbyists and offshore drilling.
Titled “Shooting,” Congresswoman Xochitl Torres-Small is out with a new television ad in her hotly contested re-election fight for New Mexico’s 2nd congressional district, according to CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin. “I haven’t been in Congress that long, but if there’s one thing that I’ve learned, Washington doesn’t get us. Out here, nobody asks if you’re a Republican or a Democrat. We’re all just New Mexicans,” the Democrat narrates in the spot, over footage of her wielding a rifle and shotgun. Torres-Small’s new ad, expected to air as part of a new ad buy totaling some $240,000 per Kantar CMAG data, comes as her Republican rival Yvette Herrell is running spots of her own featuring a county sheriff criticizing the congresswoman for having “sold us out, and voted for gun control.”
IN THE SENATE
Congressman Ben Ray Luján’s campaign says it has agreed to two debates in his bid to replace retiring New Mexico Democratic Senator Tom Udall, after calling last month for a statewide debate on New Mexico’s statewide PBS station. “We are also fully committed to working with local media and ensuring access when possible outside of a debate setting,” Travis Brimm, Luján’s campaign manager, said in a statement. Luján’s announcement comes after his Republican rival Mark Ronchetti, a former meteorologist for CBS Albuquerque affiliate KRQE, had criticized Luján for saying the contest could be “the first time this millennium a Senate candidate for an open seat didn’t debate on all three major networks.” In an email to CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin, Ronchetti’s campaign manager Jeff Glassburner said, “We have told both stations we would participate, Ben Ray has declined both.”
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