Aug 28, 2020

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

⚡ In Kenosha, Jacob Blake’s father said his son is handcuffed to the hospital bed: "He can’t go anywhere. Why do you have him cuffed to the bed?"

  • Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers replied "hell yes" when asked if he was concerned about Blake being handcuffed.AP

🇯🇵 Breaking: Japanese PM Shinzo Abe announced today that he plans to resign, due to health issues from ulcerative colitis. (BBC)

1 big thing: Trump between the lines
Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

After spending four years pushing away all but his hardest core, President Trump used the Republican National Convention to try to belatedly to reel back big swaths of the electorate who like his policies but don't like him.

  • The Trump campaign is gambling that even Americans who hate his style will ultimately vote on what they think affects them most directly.
  • So while the Democratic convention focused on Biden's character and empathy, Republicans went heavy on hardline policy contrasts by trying to cast Biden as a risky leftist, Axios' Alayna Treene points out.

More than 1,500 guests — few with masks, even though the pandemic rages — sat shoulder-to-shoulder on white folding chairs last night as Trump audaciously delivered his acceptance speech on the White House's South Lawn.

  • "Joe Biden's plan is not a solution to the virus, but rather it's a surrender to the virus," Trump said, falsely portraying Biden's vow to listen to scientists.

Then the president and his family basked onstage in a singalong of "God Bless the U.S.A.," as fireworks lit up "TRUMP" and "2020" over the Washington Monument, turning the most public of property into a political tableau.

  • "Always remember: They are coming after me, because I am fighting for you," Trump said. "That’s what’s happening."

Trump summed up his view of the race with blunt brevity:

  • "[T]he fact is, we are here and they are not."
  • Signaling the tone with 67 days to Election Day, Trump used Biden's name 40 times during his 70-minute speech. Biden didn't use Trump's name once.
"2020" in fireworks. Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times via Getty Images

The four-night Republican convention had twin aims, officials tell Axios:

  1. Make Trump more palatable to suburbanites who hate his rhetoric but like some of his policies.
  2. Ratchet up the fear factor for the Biden-Harris ticket, mostly using riots and safety as hot buttons — "deadly sanctuary cities," and charges Biden would let in jihadis, take down the wall and turn criminals loose.

Parts of the convention were effective — including stories of personal empathy, and testimonies from Black allies like Herschel Walker, the former NFL star, who said: "I take it as a personal insult that people would think I've had a 37-year friendship with a racist."

The bottom line: All those moments were designed to create a permission structure for nervous suburbanites to vote for Trump despite possible stigma in their social circles, a Trump aide told Axios.

  • But Trump advisers admit there was there was lots of contradictory messaging, such as hitting the Biden-backed 1994 crime bill as too harsh, while crowning Trump the candidate of law and order.
  • And harping on rising violence in big cities, when Trump is in charge.

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Courtesy N.Y. Post
2. More sports leagues join protests

An empty Oracle Park in San Francisco. Photo: Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The sports walk-out first started by NBA players after the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha grew yesterday, with even more leagues joining the historic strike, per Axios Sports' Jeff Tracy.

  • 🏀 NBA: All three playoff games were postponed for the second straight day, but players met and voted to resume the season by this weekend.
  • 🏈 NFL: Nine teams canceled practice, and the Giants are considering sitting out a game.
  • ⚾️ MLB: Seven games were postponed as players opted again to sit out.
  • 🏒 NHL: After playing on Wednesday, the NHL postponed Thursday and Friday's playoff games, but plan to resume Saturday.
3. Facebook as "silent majority"

"If you don't think Donald Trump can get re-elected in November, you need to spend more time on Facebook," writes N.Y. Times tech columnist Kevin Roose who keeps a popular Twitter tally of right-wing muscle on Facebook.

  • "Most days, the leaderboard looks roughly the same: conservative post after conservative post, with the occasional liberal interloper."

Why it matters: "The result is a kind of parallel media universe that left-of-center Facebook users may never encounter, but that has been stunningly effective in shaping its own version of reality."

4. RNC's finale night

Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

All week long, the Republican convention tried to create the illusion that the pandemic is largely a thing of the past. The rows of chairs on the South Lawn were inches apart. Protective masks weren't required, and COVID-19 tests weren't administered to everyone. AP

Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

Ivanka Trump introduced her father: "Washington has not changed Donald Trump. Donald Trump has changed Washington."

Photo: Republican National Committee via AP

Rudy Giuliani called Biden "a Trojan Horse with Bernie, AOC, Pelosi, Black Lives Matter and his party's entire left wing hidden inside his body."

Photo: DNC War Room

Democrats put on their own light show during Trump's fireworks.

5. Biden to return to pandemic campaign trail

Biden campaigning in New Hampshire last year. Photo: Mary Schwalm/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

Joe Biden announced plans yesterday to start traveling to swing states, promising not to violate "state rules about how many people can in fact assemble," reports Axios' Hans Nichols.

  • As some polls suggest Biden's lead is narrowing, some Democrats worry that President Trump could gain a tactical advantage at crunch time if he's campaigning in person and Biden's only out there virtually.
  • Still, many Biden advisers remain convinced that there's a strategic benefit to drawing a sharp contrast with President Trump when it comes to curbing travel and social distancing — as well as a public health benefit.

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6. Big hurricanes become more frequent
Damage from Hurricane Laura near Lake Charles, La. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

A combination of increased coastal development, natural climate cycles, reductions in air pollution and man-made climate change could lead to increased damage from tropical storms around the globe, reports AP's Seth Borenstein.

  • "We are seeing an increase of intensity of these phenomena because we as a society are fundamentally changing the Earth and at the same time we are moving to locations that are more hazardous," said Susan Cutter, director of the Hazards and Vulnerability Institute at the University of South Carolina.
7. For cars, it's a seller's market

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Anyone looking to buy a car right now is likely to find fewer choices and higher prices — with very little room to negotiate, Axios' Joann Muller reports from Detroit.

  • The big picture: The pandemic has thrown off the natural balance between supply and demand for new and used cars, driving up vehicle prices and putting all the bargaining power into the hands of car dealers, who are enjoying fatter-than-normal profits.

The shift has been driven by federal stimulus programs, incentives like longer loans and increased aversion toward public transit amid the virus crisis.

8. Milestone: Lord & Taylor liquidating
Engraving shows a manual elevator in the Lord & Taylor store in Manhattan in 1873. Photo: Archive Photos/Getty Images

Lord & Taylor — America’s oldest department store, with roots dating to 1826 — will close all 38 of its once-grand stores after filing for bankruptcy.

  • Department stores were in trouble anyway. But the pandemic has wiped them out, because of shutdowns and the move away from formal attire.

Also filing for bankruptcy during the pandemic: J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus and Stein Mart.

  • J.C. Penney and Neiman Marcus plan to stay in business; Stein Mart is liquidating, USA Today reports.
9. "The silence will speak to us all"
Courtesy The New York Times

Kurt Streeter, formerly a world-ranked ATP tennis player and ESPN The Magazine writer, debuts as "Sports of the Times" columnist for the N.Y. Times:

Never before has the world of sports spoken so emphatically. The timing was unmistakably significant. The athlete walkouts were set starkly against a frightened Trumpian vision presented at the Republican National Convention.
We watched this week as two Americas clashed in front of us, separated by generations and by oceans-apart views of race, justice and what it means to be a patriot.

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10. 1 fun thing: "Work from Bermuda"

A beach in Bermuda. Photo: Don Emmert/AFP via Getty Images

Scenic destinations, like Barbados and Bermuda, are offering special programs to allow remote workers to move there in a bit to boost their tourism-reliant economies, The Wall Street Journal's Debra Kamin reports.

  • "These guests to Bermuda are a hybrid of residents and visitors, spending money at our restaurants, spas … it will help us get our people in hospitality back to work," said Glenn Jones, interim CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority.
Mike Allen

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