Aug 9, 2019

Axios AM

Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,182 words ... < 5 minutes.

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1 big thing: Trump allies welcome "white supremacist" charge
Joe Biden works the Iowa State Fair yesterday. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

What's new: Trump campaign officials and sources close to the president tell Axios that they believe Democrats' extraordinary charge that the president is a "white supremacist" will actually help him win in 2020, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.

  • Why it matters: These Trump allies tell us that the claim by Democratic opponents is not only emboldening his base, but also alienating some mainstream Republicans who think Democrats have gone too far.

At least six Democratic presidential contenders have called President Trump a white supremacist, and several others are suggesting the same.

  • A Trump campaign official said: "They’re trying to make the case that anyone who supports this president is a racist. They’re talking about [nearly] half the country."

The state of play: Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as Beto O'Rourke and Pete Buttigieg, have all publicly called the president a white supremacist since Saturday's El Paso massacre.

  • Buttigieg said yesterday, when Axios' Alexi McCammond asked him — at a National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) forum in Miami — if he thinks Trump is a white supremacist: "Yes, I do. At best, he’s emboldening people with that intention."
  • Joe Biden told reporters in Iowa yesterday: "Everything the president says encourages white supremacy, and I’m not sure there is much of a distinction." But he didn't explicitly label Trump a white supremacist.
  • Sen. Kamala Harris' campaign told Axios that Harris has "spoken out and called out Trump, who she’s said has coddled and emboldened white supremacy." But the campaign wouldn't go so far as using the label.
  • Andrew Yang told Axios that, "based on his actions and words, yes I do [think he is a white supremacist]. If he’s not a white supremacist, he’s done a phenomenal job making it seem like he is."

P.S. "Feeling smug" ... In a story on Trump's "summer storms" as he leaves today for his annual August holiday at his New Jersey golf club, AP's Jonathan Lemire quotes former aide Anthony Scaramucci as saying Trump is "feeling smug":

  • "He doesn't think he is facing any challenges. His attitude is, 'The economy is doing great, I am putting the hammer down on China, the rest is just noise.'"
  • "The media is against him, his supporters are for him."
2. Both parties signal new look at guns
Dion Green shows a picture of himself and his father, Derrick Fudge, who was killed in Dayton. Photo: Robert Bumsted/AP

Although post-tragedy talk about gun control always fizzles, both parties look set to re-examine long-time positions when Congress returns in September:

  • Democrats are re-evaluating "their long-standing hesitation on an assault weapons ban, propelled by an influential grass-roots movement demanding more aggressive action on guns and the party’s growing political strength in the suburbs." (WashPost's Seung Min Kim)
  • Republicans: "President Trump explored whether to back expanded background checks on gun purchasers and Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader, signaled that he would at least be open to considering the idea." (N.Y. Times)
3. Backlash from blue-state brands
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and Donald Trump attend a benefit dinner in New York in 2010. Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Billionaire New York real estate developer Stephen Ross privately expressed qualms about going ahead with his Hamptons fundraiser for President Trump today, Axios' Jonathan Swan reports.

  • Liberal customers had threatened to boycott Equinox and SoulCycle, the high-end fitness brands owned by a parent company that Ross chairs.
  • Ross, who also owns the NFL's Miami Dolphins, "freaked out" at the backlash, a source said, adding that Trump associates persuaded him to go ahead with the event at his Southampton mansion.
  • "Stay strong, it's not going to be that bad. Not that many people are going to boycott the gym," was another source's paraphrasing of what Trump's associates conveyed to Ross.

Ross describes himself as a "champion of racial equality, inclusion, diversity, public education and environmental sustainability."

  • The WashPost obtained an invitation to today's event, and reported: "Tickets are priced at $100,000 for a photo opportunity and lunch, and $250,000 for the package that includes the roundtable discussion."

The big picture: Trump is so toxic to blue-state-favorite brands that their CEOs often try to stiff-arm him.

  • On Wednesday, Equinox and SoulCycle issued a statement saying they do not support the Trump fundraiser.

Ross responded to the criticism in a statement Wednesday, saying he has always been "an active participant in the democratic process," per CNBC:

  • "I have known Donald Trump for 40 years, and while we agree on some issues, we strongly disagree on many others and I have never been bashful about expressing my opinions.”
4. Immigrants lock doors, rally around children of detained
A federal agent searches an employee as U.S. immigration officials raid a chicken-processing plant in Morton, Miss. Photo: Rogelio V. Solis/AP

Mississippi residents rallied around terrified children left with no parents and migrants locked themselves in their homes for fear of being arrested yesterday, a day after the country's largest immigration raid in a decade, AP reports.

  • 680 people were arrested, but more than 300 had been released by yesterday with notices to appear before immigration judges.
  • Those released included 18 juveniles, with the youngest being 14 years old.

"The children are scared," said Ronaldo Tomas, speaking in Spanish, who said his cousin with two children was detained in one of the raids.

  • 150 students were absent yesterday from the county's 4,000-student district.
  • School officials are trying to coax parents into letting their children return through phone calls and home visits.
5. A rush to refinance

Homeowners are rushing to refinance their mortgages after tumbling yields on Treasury bonds pushed the 30-year, fixed mortgage rate to 3.6% — down from 5% in November, writes The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

  • By the numbers: "What might seem like a small decline in mortgage rates can have a big effect on monthly payments. A 5% rate on a $500,000 30-year loan translates into a monthly payment of $2,684, according to LendingTree Inc., an online loan information site. At 4%, the monthly payment would fall to $2,387, excluding taxes and insurance."
6. First look: Warren surges in youth vote
Expand chart
Data: College Reaction survey of 858 U.S. college students, Aug. 2-3. Margin of error: ±3.0. Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Cyrus Beschloss — founder of College Reaction, one of the most reliable guides to college-student opinion — narrates a new College Reaction Presidential Index:

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren soared from single digits in May to the leaders’ bracket. Her rising stock suggests young people are keeping tabs on the wonky blow-by-blow. Look for a larger bump as her student debt plan fans out to more young people.
  • President Trump: 83% of the students polled oppose him, but they're split across different Democratic candidates.
7. Other countries dunk on U.S.

Venezuela, Uruguay and Japan issued traveler warnings about U.S. gun violence after this weekend's massacres, AP reports.

  • Japan's consulate in Detroit warned its citizens that the U.S. is a "gun society," and advised its citizens to pay attention to the potential for gunfire "everywhere" in the U.S.
8. Uber's big miss

"Uber shares dropped as much as 12% after the company delivered disappointing second-quarter results" yesterday with net losses of $5.24 billion, ultimately finishing down around 4%, per CNBC.

  • It "has been investing in and operating myriad 'on-demand' businesses including food delivery, bike-sharing and a freight service that matches shippers with carriers who can haul their goods."
9. Honda's plan to capture Gen Z

Honda is set to become the official automaker of one of North America's biggest esports leagues in an attempt "to meet young consumers on their own terms," reports Bloomberg's Eben Novy-Williams.

  • Why it matters: "Millennials and Gen Z are the only generations increasing their share of car sales right now, and Honda is well positioned with those groups. Its Civic and Accord models are the top-selling vehicles for first-time buyers, according to the company."
10. 1 food thing: Eat like a 2020 candidate
"The Colossus," new this year. Photo: Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Des Moines Register via Reuters

As 2020 hopefuls descend on the Iowa State Fair, they're expected to grab a bite to eat. Joe Biden went straight for the ice cream yesterday, but there are 50 new foods — "from sweet to salty, to strange and tasty" — out there to try:

  • Bacon Wrapped Pig Wings
  • Chicken Bacon Ranch Poutine
  • Dill Pickle Popcorn
  • Jalapeno Popper Pizza
  • Tangled Onion Pork Po-Boy

The full list.

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