Sep 5, 2020

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

🏈 Happy holiday Saturday! It's finally college football Week 1.

Situational awareness: Portland reaches the 100-day milestone for protests over the Labor Day weekend. Black Lives Matter protests, vigils and speeches are planned over three days. Trump supporters plan another caravan rally. AP

1 big thing: Trump wants to be "the wall"

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In 2016, Donald Trump pledged to "build the wall." In 2020, he's promising to be the wall between chaos and your community.

The president's rhetorical imagery is shifting from big, physical barriers against illegal immigration to a show of force against threats to the suburbs.

  • Trump has conjured images of Joe Biden inviting looters, rioters, radical leftists and unidentified thugs in dark uniforms to run wild.

Why it matters: The imagery gives him an off-ramp to steer debate away from the coronavirus, which has taken more than 187,000 U.S. lives on his watch, and make Biden sound dangerous.

Between the lines: Immigration has slipped significantly from 2016 in terms of Americans' priorities heading into the election. And most Americans don't support the construction of a physical border wall or hard-line immigration policies, per an NPR-Ipsos poll.

  • Immigration fell to 12th place in terms of most worrisome topics, the poll found. COVID-19 commanded a clear lead, followed by health care, political polarization, racial injustice and crime or gun violence.

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2. In their own words: Trump and Biden on disparaging troops
President Trump leaves the White House press room yesterday. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

The furor touched off by Jeffrey's Goldberg's article in The Atlantic, reporting that President Trump has disparaged military heroes behind the scenes, led all three network newscasts last night — a sign it could be a real problem for Trump.

  • Yesterday's on-camera responses by President Trump and Joe Biden vividly crystallize their differences in style and worldview. So I'm going to just let them talk — nothing I say can top their own words.

President Trump, speaking in the White House briefing room, on an article that has been confirmed in part by Fox News, AP, the WashPost and the N.Y. Times:

There is nobody that feels more strongly about our soldiers, our wounded warriors, our soldiers that died in war, than I do. It's a hoax, just like the fake dossier was a hoax, just like the "Russia, Russia, Russia" was a hoax. It was a total hoax. No collusion. Just like so many other things. It's a hoax.
The magazine is a failing magazine [Fact check: The Atlantic has never had more readers.] ... [T]hey just write whatever they want to write because they figure you can’t get sued. ... [I]t’s a very hard — bringing lawsuits. ...
So it’s a disgrace that somebody is allowed to write things like that. ... [A] lot of times, the sources aren’t sources; they don’t exist. And sometimes the sources are just people that are disgruntled, former so-called employees.

Trump then attacked a key figure in the article — former White House chief of staff John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general who lost a son, a Marine, in Afghanistan (Kelly has not commented):

I know John Kelly ... Didn’t do a good job, had no temperament, and ultimately, he was petered out. He got — he was exhausted. This man was totally exhausted. ... By the time he got eaten up in this world — it’s a different world than he was used to — he was unable to function. ...
And now he goes out and ... bad mouths. ... I don’t know that it was him. I haven’t seen that. I mean, I see "Anonymous," but it could have been a guy like a John Kelly ... He got eaten alive. He was unable to handle the pressure of this job.

Read Trump's full remarks.

3. Biden in his own words: "I just think it is sick"
Joe Biden meets the press in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Joe Biden took questions in Wilmington about The Atlantic's article, sounding the angriest — and most astonished — he has during this campaign:

Presidents of the United States should be presidential and should lead by example ... Getting down in the gutter like the president does, saying things that I'd be inclined if we were behind a barn somewhere, it'd be a different thing. But that's not the job of a president. ...
I just think it is sick, it is deplorable, it is so un-American, it is so unpatriotic.
I mean, watching him this morning, while I was shaving and the TV on, talking about he never said anything like that, he honored John McCain. He's the reason why flags were flown at half-mast. Oh, wasn't that noble of him?

Biden then praised the press:

I'm not being solicitous: Among the brightest people I've dealt with in my whole career have been the press. Not a joke. You all are extremely well-educated, you're well-read, you have significant backgrounds, and the vast majority have tried to report the news, not just opinion. 
4. Pic du jour: Rochester protests, Night 3

Photo: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Spotted in Rochester last night.

  • Rochester had a third night of protests after video was released this week of Daniel Prude, who died of asphyxiation in March after officers pinned him to the ground while restraining him.

Three people were charged with first-degree rioting yesterday, The Democrat & Chronicle reports.

  • Three officers were hospitalized, "two for cuts and one for burns, after being struck by flying objects or incendiary devices."
5. Pandemic threatens a decade of progress in child mortality rates
Data: PATH estimates from disrupted maternal, newborn and child health services, drawing on modeling from Lancet Global Health. Chart: Axios Visuals

Within a mere eight months, COVID has set back years of global progress in children's health and other areas by disrupting essential health services around the world, Eileen Drage O'Reilly writes.

  • Why it matters: These disrupted services will result in a myriad of near- and long-term health problems.

The big picture: Decades of global progress in education, electricity access and gender equality have been lost due to the pandemic.

6. Trump targets "white privilege" training as "anti-American"
Via The White House

President Trump moved to cut off federal agencies' anti-racism training, calling the sessions "divisive, anti-American propaganda," AP's Zeke Miller reports.

  • Why it matters: The memo comes as the nation has faced a reckoning this summer over racial injustice in policing and other spheres of American life.

OMB director Russell Vought, in a memo to executive branch agencies, cites "press reports" as contributing to Trump's decision.

  • That apparently refers to segments on Fox News and other outlets that have stoked conservative outrage about the training.

Read the memo.

7. College football Week 1
Rodney Dixon, a University of Iowa football dad (left), and Randy White, an Ohio State dad, during a parents' protest outside Big Ten HQ in Rosemont, Ill., on Aug. 21. Photo: Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune via AP

As college football kicks off in earnest over the holiday, 77 of the 130 major teams are playing this fall while the other 53, including the entire Big Ten and Pac-12, have postponed their seasons, AP's Ralph Russo writes.

  • Players are being COVID-tested three times a week. Positive tests will send players to isolation for at least 10 days and players deemed to be close contacts to those who test positive will be quarantined for 14 days.
  • Masks will be worn on sidelines.

With no Big Ten or Pac-12, which postponed their seasons and hope to make them up, that means no No. 2 Ohio State, No. 7 Penn State or No. 9 Oregon.

8. Furious stage kick-starts Tour de France
Photos: AFP via Getty Images

Scenes from yesterday's 7th day-long stage (of 21) of the 107th Tour de France, a rare global event that's going ahead amid the pandemic.

  • LAVAUR, France (AP) — The most thrilling day of racing so far at the Tour de France produced multiple winners Friday, kick-starting the race that had been something of a slow-burner and setting the stage for more hard riding this weekend in the high mountains of the Pyrenees.
Mike Allen

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