Former President Obama is urging Americans and local leaders to seize the urgency of the moment — the killing of George Floyd last week in Minneapolis and the ensuing nationwide protests — and change the nation. “In some ways as tragic as these past few weeks have been, as difficult and scary and uncertain as they’ve been, they’ve also been an incredible opportunity for people to be awakened to some of these underlying trends,” Mr. Obama said. “And they offer an opportunity for us to all work together to tackle, to take them on, to change America and make it live up to its highest ideals.”
CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice says his remarks were part of a broader conversation hosted by My Brother’s Keeper Alliance about proposed reforms to the nation’s law enforcement agencies and how to improve trust between police and the communities they protect.
During his remarks, the former president had a direct message for young people of color who have “witnessed too much violence and too much death, and too often some of that violence has come from folks who were supposed to be serving and protecting” them. “I want you to know that you matter, I want you to know that your lives matter, that your dreams matter,” he said.
As protests continue across the U.S., Mr. Obama encouraged local leaders to take immediate action.
“Today, I’m urging every mayor in this country to review your use of force policies with members of your community and commit to report on planned reforms,” he said. Mr. Obama also directed them to the 21st Century Policing Task Force Report and its reform recommendations.
On Wednesday, former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter also addressed the death of George Floyd and widespread protests.
“Rosalynn and I are pained by the tragic racial injustices and consequent backlash across our nation in recent weeks. Our hearts are with the victims’ families and all who feel hopeless in the face of pervasive racial discrimination and outright cruelty,” Carter said in a statement. “We all must shine a spotlight on the immorality of racial discrimination. But violence, whether spontaneous or consciously incited, is not a solution.” Carter went on to say that “people of power, privilege, and moral conscience must stand up and say ‘no more’ to a racially discriminatory police and justice system, immoral economic disparities between whites and blacks, and government actions that undermine our unified democracy.”
In his statement, Clinton said, “No one deserves to die the way George Floyd did. And the truth is, if you’re white in America, the chances are you won’t.” Clinton went on to say people need to see each other as “equally deserving of life, liberty, respect, dignity, and the presumption of innocence.” He also said, “We need to ask ourselves and each other hard questions, and listen carefully to the answers.” Both statements follow one by former president George W. Bush on Tuesday.
FROM THE CANDIDATES
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP
The makers of Snapchat — a popular social media app — said Wednesday it will no longer promote President Trump’s account on their home page, CBS News producer Gisela Perez and campaign reporter Nicole Sganga report. Mr. Trump’s account will remain accessible to users, but will no longer be highlighted alongside news and popular celebrity profiles.
Snapchat’s parent company, Snap Inc., said it decided to stop featuring the president’s account following a Twitter post in which the commander-in-chief threatened to send “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons” into nationwide demonstrations following the death of Minnesota man, George Floyd, an African-American man killed in police custody.
The move follows Twitter’s decision to label several of the president’s tweets for inaccuracies and “glorifying violence.” Citing free speech, Facebook has not removed or edited the president’s posted content. In a statement, Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale accused Snapchat of “trying to rig the 2020 election, illegally using their corporate funding to promote Joe Biden and suppress President Trump.”
President Trump acknowledges that he went to the bunker underneath the White House Friday, but claimed he did so more for an “inspection,” CBS News Digital White House reporter Kathryn Watson reports. He also said that he went in the afternoon, not in the evening as had been reported, when the scene outside the White House became much more chaotic.
In a Fox News Radio interview Wednesday, the president said he was only in the bunker for “a short period of time” and claimed the Secret Service had told him it would be a good time to look at the bunker because “maybe sometime you’re going to need it.”
Releasing details of Trump’s physical in April, White House physician, Dr. Sean Conley, reports Trumps vitals “remain healthy,” according to Sganga. The president weighs in at 244 pounds and 6’3″ – obese, according to the CDC’s body-mass index calculator. The memo indicates the President took a two-week dose of hydroxychloroquine with zinc and vitamin D, in consultation with care team members and “without side effects.”
President Trump tweeted Tuesday night that North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper “forced” him to seek another state for the Republican National Convention, CBS News political unit campaign reporters LaCrai Mitchell, Nicole Sganga and political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson report.
Cooper said earlier Tuesday that the likelihood that the convention will take place in Charlotte depends on the party’s willingness to scale back its event. The GOP has repeatedly insisted on hosting a full 19,000-person crowd with no mandatory face coverings.
“The RNC’s Executive Committee has voted unanimously to allow the official business of the national convention to continue in Charlotte,” RNC Communications Director Michael Ahrens said in a statement today. “Many other cities are eager to host the president’s acceptance of the nomination, and we are currently in talks with several of them to host that celebration.”
Charlotte City Attorney Patrick Baker told reporters on a call Wednesday that discussions about the convention are ongoing and the city is moving forward with plans to host the GOP Convention in the Queen City. Butler said to date, approximately $14 million has been spent by the city for security. That money is expected to be reimbursed.
Thursday marks a regularly-scheduled meeting between convention stakeholders including the Charlotte RNC Host Committee and GOP leadership. A Republican familiar with convention planning tells CBS News the GOP is actively considering venues for the President’s nomination acceptance speech in Jacksonville, Orlando, Nashville, and Las Vegas as well as cities in Georgia and Arizona. Republican officials will tour one potential site – Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee – later this week.
CHANGE IN VENUE
Governor Ron DeSantis said Florida could potentially pull off hosting the Republican National Convention in August, adding that it should be assumed that mitigation measures like face masks and testing would be in place. During a press conference Wednesday, CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports that DeSantis said he’s talked with Republican National Committee officials about potentially hosting the gathering after President Trump tweeted Tuesday evening, he would be moving the convention from Charlotte, N.C.
“You have mitigation measures like face masks, you can test, you can do all those things. So in all these states, particularly as you look months in advance, my view would be we should assume we’re going to be doing those,” said DeSantis. “I think that we probably are going to be able to pull it off. But you know what? If it gets closer and you need to call an audible, I mean heck, [the president] has the CDC at his disposal.”
Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez says his party can’t take anyone for granted in the 2020 election, including black voters, which make up approximately 12% of the electorate.
“We have to make sure that we are taking this moment and turning it into the movement that it must be, making sure that we continue to invest in communities of color,” Perez said during a DNC roundtable with African-American reporters Wednesday. “We understand that organizing doesn’t mean you simply show up in a Black church the October before the presidential.”
Perez said the party has been making investments for several years and pointed to approximately 7,000 digital organizers which have spread across battleground states. African-American political director Ebony Baylor said the DNC has been very “intentional” about hiring staff on the ground that are organizing in the black community and will continue targeted outreach through signature programs like “Chop It Up” and “Seat At The Table.”
Additionally Symone Sanders, a senior adviser for Joe Biden, noted the presumptive nominee will unveil more proposals in coming weeks, including a jobs plan. Perez also signaled former President Obama will return to the campaign trail “in the months ahead.”
Democratic officials say the effort takes on added significance in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the latest unrest stemming from the death of George Floyd.
“Do we have people with clipboards trying to register voters at these protests, the answer is no,” Perez told CBS News correspondent Nikole Killion. “Right now we’re about peaceful protest to send a very important message about the work ahead.”
In a separate call with the Black Economic Alliance, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel and senior communications adviser for Black media affairs Paris Dennard outlined GOP initiatives, such as establishing urban offices in several cities across the country.
“We get to talk about things like loan forgiveness for HBCUs and economic opportunity zones and record low unemployment for the African-American community…those are things we can tangibly take to the African-American community and we’re going to fight for that,” McDaniel said. The DNC held a call with the organization on Tuesday.
POLLING THE ROOM
BIDEN V. TRUMP
New polling by Monmouth University finds Joe Biden leading President Trump by double digits as more voters say they trust the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee on race relations. Biden currently leads Trump 52% to 41%, up from 50% to 41% last month, thanks in part to a double-digit lead among voters of color 71% to 20%, women 58% to 39%, and independent voters 51% to 35%.
CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice notes just over half of voters expressed a great deal or at least some confidence in Biden’s ability to address race relations while just four in ten voters have a great deal or some confidence in Mr. Trump’s ability to address the issue.
Meanwhile, Biden also appears to have a slight edge when it comes to confidence in his ability to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Just over half of voters have a great deal or some confidence in Biden’s ability to deal with the recovery while less than half of voters have a great deal or some confidence in Trump’s ability to address the issue.
However, Mr. Trump does lead Biden specifically among those who state they have “great deal” of confidence 33% to 18% due to a greater certainty among his Republican base.
Tuesday was one of the biggest days of voting since the coronavirus pandemic disrupted daily life, with voters in eight states and Washington, D.C. choosing nominees for congressional and local offices while also casting ballots in a presidential primary where the Democratic Party already has a presumptive nominee.
On top of the current pandemic, an economic crisis amid widespread protests, riots, and law enforcement deployments across major cities led to long lines for voters in some locations. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said based on her personal experience, “D.C. voters spent hours at the polls and that is nothing short of failed execution.”
Polls in the nation’s capital closed at 8 p.m., an hour after a city-wide curfew went into effect. Those in line to vote by 8 p.m. were exempt from the curfew, Bowser tweeted Tuesday evening. Other cities like Philadelphia also reported long lines as the city closed down roughly 70% of its in-person polling locations in a response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Tuesday’s hybrid Election Day with vote-by-mail and in-person voting centers could be a preview of what is to come during the November presidential election.
“We’re going to have to administer elections both during a pandemic and a time of very real unrest,” CEO of Vote.org Andrea Hailey told CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar. Hailey said that for the most part, given the circumstances, states did well holding their elections but added that “improvements can be made to widen access.”
Hailey said voters are “fired up” to engage in the political process but warned that states need to act “now” if they want to administer a problem-free election in November. “One of the fundamental actions somebody could take is verifying their registration status, registering to vote,” Hailey said. She added that “making a plan” to vote will be essential “because we are in challenging times and there is a pandemic.”
NEW(SOM) EXECUTIVE ORDER
California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a new executive order Tuesday ordering all counties in the state to have at least one in-person voting center for every 10,000 registered voters beginning the Saturday before Election Day. As is already the case in California, CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar says in-person voting opportunities will still be available in county election offices starting 29 days before Election Day.
Secretary of State Alex Padilla said this new executive order will provide “immediate clarity necessary for elections officials to properly prepare for the general election.”
Since many poll workers and voting locations used in the past will not be available this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic, Padilla said, election officials will need the support of the government and private sector “to identify and secure more suitable voting locations and to recruit new poll workers.”
This is Newsom’s second executive order as it relates to administering an election during the coronavirus pandemic. Last month, Newsom’s first executive order demanded that every registered voter in the state would be automatically sent a mail-in ballot. That order is currently being challenged in court by Republicans who claimed Newsom’s order is an illegal power grab.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar says Black Lives Matter activists who are now running for Democratic seats in Congress held a press call Wednesday morning to discuss racial tensions and how they would tackle systemic racism if they were serving in the House of Representatives.
“It won’t change unless we do something different and by doing something different. I mean, start to elect people that actually have the heart of the community,” said Cori Bush, candidate for Missouri’s 1st District. Bush, a nurse and single mother who protested for more than 400 days in Ferguson after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, said she never thought about running for office six years ago. Bush said those currently inspired to take action should have a mission and know what they are demanding.
“One of my demands is defunding the police,” Bush said. “Once all the protests are all done, once all of that has settled, soak into what it is you are trying to accomplish now because movements move,” Bush added.
According to Samelys Lopez, candidate for New York’s 15th District, changes in the criminal justice system are occurring because of the work of the “black frontline activists that are doing that work.”
“We need to listen to what they are saying on the ground and hear what they are experiencing,” Lopez said.
Shahid Buttar, running in California’s 12th District against 17-term-incumbent and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, said Eric Garner was also “murdered” on camera “and here we are again, years later, have the same debate with our institutions, with the Democratic leadership having turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to our communities in the years since.”
Buttar acknowledged the current challenges that activists might face as they look to organize in the middle of the global health pandemic.
“Despair and disillusion are among our greatest challenges at the moment and one of the antidotes to them is action,” Buttar said. He encouraged activists to embrace digital alternatives to in-person coalition building as a way to ensure the movement for social justice has continued momentum.
“This is not just a moment in time, even though it may seem like it,” said Isiah James, candidate for Brooklyn’s 9th District. “We have to realize that we are just pieces in this engine of change. We have to keep going. It’s just that simple,” James added.
IN THE HOUSE
Eight states (Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Montana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and South Dakota) had Congressional primaries on Tuesday, reports CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro. In Indiana, two open seats left by retiring members have their slate of candidates.
Frank Mrvan, a township trustee, beat a crowded field for the Democratic nomination. He will be facing Republican Mark Leyva for the state’s 1st congressional district, represented by Democrat Peter Viclosky since 1984. Congresswoman Susan Brooks represented the state’s 5th district since 2013 and will be succeeded by either Democrat Christina Hale or Republican Victoria Spartz.
Congressman Steve King was defeated Tuesday night in his bid for a tenth term, losing the Republican primary to Iowa State Senator Randy Feenstra, according to CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster and Navarro.
Many Republicans declined to back King during the primary cycle. King, who was first elected to Congress in 2002, has drawn national scrutiny for years for his controversial remarks on issues such as immigration, abortion and saying it’s “not objectively true” to consider every culture equal. But King’s opponents didn’t focus on that. Instead, they honed in on his waning influence in Washington. A January 2019 interview with The New York Times cost King his committee assignments after his comments about white nationalism and white supremacy drew bipartisan condemnation.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King told The New York Times.
Republicans who worked to unseat King jumped on his lack of a committee assignment, saying he doesn’t have sway in Washington and can’t deliver for his constituents. “I’ve said from day one that Iowans deserve a proven, effective conservative leader that will deliver results,” Feenstra said in a video. “I promise you I will deliver results in Congress.”
Also in Iowa, Ashley Hinson, a former TV anchor in the Cedar Rapids area and seen by many in GOP circles as a rising star in the party, won the Republican nomination for Congress in Iowa’s first Congressional district with nearly 80% of the vote.
Hinson will face incumbent Democrat Abby Finkenauer, who became the second youngest member of Congress when she flipped the district in 2018. President Trump endorsed Hinson last week. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham fundraised for Hinson in Iowa last November and called her a “dynamic conservative leader.”
Hinson, 36, was recently elevated to the highest tier of the “Young Gun Program” by the National Republican Congressional Committee and many forecasters now see her race against Finkenauer as a tossup. Hinson currently serves as the state representative for Iowa House District 67, where she won 9 of the 13 precincts in 2016. Hinson’s campaign manager Jimmy Peacock told CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar that the candidate’s experience as a morning TV anchor for more than a decade “has real dividends and now people know her and trust her.”
That benefit was on display last night as Hinson won her primary by the biggest margin of any candidate in the state and did so without spending any money on television advertising. Peacock said the campaign has close to $1.1 million cash on hand and will continue to fundraise ahead of the general election in November. “We’ve been able to run a general election campaign and focus almost entirely on Congresswoman Finkenauer for the past year.” Moving forward, Peacock said, the campaign’s focus will be “showing that there is a clear contrast” between Hinson and Finkenauer.
Former Republican state lawmaker Yvette Herrell late Tuesday scored her party’s nomination for New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, setting the stage for a rematch with vulnerable first-term Congresswoman Xochitl Torres-Small who won the seat by less than two points in 2018, reports CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin. Herrell had faced a bitter GOP primary fight, fraught with meddling from left-leaning Super PACs, personal attacks, and a competition to prove their loyalty to President Trump, who won the district in 2016 by more than 10 points.
But Herrell’s drained coffers are already set to be buoyed by GOP allies including the Congressional Leadership Fund, which has booked more than $1 million of ad time in the district, and the Trump campaign, which spent weeks condemning Torres-Small for not weighing in on Tara Reade’s allegations against Joe Biden.
Veteran Sean Parnell garnered the early support from President Trump and will face Congressman Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania’s 17th District, a target for House Republican groups. In the state’s 7th District, which is held by freshman Democrat Susan Wild and is another target for Republicans, Navarro says former county commissioner Lisa Scheller will be the Republican nominee. In the state’s first district, a GOP-held target for Democrats, incumbent Brian Fitzpatrick beat challenger Andrew Meehan by at least 7,000 votes according to the latest count. He will be facing Democrat Christina Finello. Another target for Democrats, Scott Perry’s 10th district, has their nominee in state auditor Eugene DePasquale.
IN THE SENATE
On Tuesday evening, businesswoman Theresa Greenfield won the Democratic Senate primary in Iowa and will take on Republican Senator Joni Ernst in November, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson. Greenfield was endorsed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee last summer and led in fundraising against the other three candidates ahead of the primary. She also received a lot of help in ad reservations from outside groups like Senate Majority PAC which booked almost $7 million in ad reservations from the start of the year through the primary. Republican outside groups have also put in large investments in reservations for the general election to protect Ernst. According to data from Kantar/CMAG, the Republican outside groups Senate Leadership Fund, National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, and America’s PAC have combined put up more than $16 million in ad reservations through the general election.
The general election race in Montana between Democrat Lieutenant Governor Mike Cooney and Congressman Greg Gianforte is set, and CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro reports the attack ads have already started rolling.
In one by the Montana Democratic party, Gianforte is hammered for missing 93% of his votes in Congress. “No show Greg. Not from Montana. Doesn’t show up for Montanans,” the ad says. In an ad by the Republican Governor’s Association “Right Direction PAC,” they label Cooney as a career politician that “spent decades in office on the tax payer’s dime.” The ad closes by saying, “After 44 years, Montana deserves more than a career politician.”
RGA communications director Amelia Chasse said of the Montana Democrats ad, “Democrats know they are the underdogs in this race, and they’re understandably concerned about the contrast between career politician Mike Cooney, who has been in government since the 70’s, and Greg Gianforte, who has created hundreds of jobs in Montana.”
Indiana’s gubernatorial matchup was also set on Tuesday night. Incumbent Republican Governor Eric Holcomb cruised through his nomination and will be facing Democrat Dr. Woody Myers. In his COVID-19 update Tuesday, Governor Holcomb was asked about Tuesday’s turnout and if he’d consider continuing the no-excuse absentee voting in the fall. Holcomb said he waited 35 to 40 minutes to vote in person, and said he saw the necessary PPE and masks at the polling site. “Once again, this is a safe option. I know from the turnout yesterday in person, that that option is critical to many people,” he said.
Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled Hinson’s first name, and misstated the date that Trump endorsed her.