Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg said Tuesday that he has spoken with the author of a recent article in The Root that disparaged him for saying in 2011 that kids in "lower income, minority neighborhoods" don't have evidence that education leads to success.

Driving the news: Buttigieg acknowledged his struggle with attracting black voters at the fifth Democratic debate last week, saying he welcomes "the challenge." Meanwhile, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been closing in on Joe Biden's lead with black Democrats.

What he's saying:

"Well I reached out to the author, and while I obviously, I think that some of the characterization of me personally is unfair, I do understand the concern. What I said in that comment before I became mayor does not reflect the totality of my understanding then, and certainly now, about the obstacles that students of color face in our system today.
I believe I was speaking about the need for mentorship and the need for career pathways but the problem is to the extent that, that feels like it's validating a narrative that sometimes blames the victim for the consequences of systemic racism, I understand why he was upset and I understand the perspective and largely agree."
— Pete Buttigieg, in a statement to CNN's Donald Judd

The other side: The Root article argues that Buttigieg's 2011 remarks overlook key aspects of institutional racism in the U.S. education system that affect black Americans, including discrepancies in funding, discipline and post-college unemployment perpetuated by race and income.

  • Root senior writer Michael Harriot characterized Buttigieg, in the context of his 2011 comment, as a "lying motherf--cker."
  • Harriot published another piece on Tuesday after talking with Buttigieg, saying that the candidate "didn’t excuse himself by explaining that the comments referenced by the article were made years ago" and "didn’t even try to explain his plan for black America."

Flashback: Buttigieg took a leave of absence from the campaign trail in June after a white police officer in South Bend fatally shot a black man, heightening tension over how the mayor's governance has affected minorities in his home town.

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Elliott Abrams to replace Brian Hook as Trump's Iran envoy

Brian Hook. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Image

President Trump's Iran envoy, Brian Hook, is stepping down, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed Thursday. He will be replaced with Venezuela envoy Elliott Abrams, a noted Iran hawk who will serve in both roles.

Why it matters: Hook had been tasked with executing Trump's "maximum pressure" policy toward Iran, working closely with Pompeo. That strategy has deepened tensions and thus far failed to force Iran back to the negotiating table, as Trump had hoped.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tests positive for coronavirus ahead of Trump visit

Photo: Justin Merriman/Getty Images

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) has tested positive for COVID-19 and plans to quarantine at his home for the next 14 days, his office announced Thursday. He currently has no symptoms.

Why it matters: The 73-year-old DeWine was set to meet President Trump Thursday on the tarmac at an airport in Cleveland and was tested as part of standard protocol. He is the second governor known to have contracted the coronavirus, after Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R).

Updated 52 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 p.m. ET: 18,860,908 — Total deaths: 708,676— Total recoveries — 11,394,821Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 p.m. ET: 4,834,546 — Total deaths: 158,445 — Total recoveries: 1,577,851 — Total tests: 58,920,975Map.
  3. Politics: Pelosi rips GOP: "Perhaps you mistook them for somebody who gives a damn" — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tests positive.
  4. Public health: Fauci says task force will examine aerosolized spread.
  5. Business: July's jobs report could be an inflection point for the recovery — Teladoc and Livongo merge into virtual care giant.
  6. Sports: Where college football's biggest conferences stand on playing.