Two separate groups of governors on the East and West Coasts are beginning to look at how to reopen their states' economies, reports CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro. In the east, governors from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island and Massachusetts announced their multi-state council on Monday, hoping to gradually lift their "stay-at-home" orders while preventing further spreading of the virus. Within the council are the governors, their respective chiefs of staff, and one health and economic expert from each state. Other East Coast states that could potentially join are Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
In the west, governors from California, Oregon and Washington have formed a similar "Western States Pact." In their joint statement, they stressed "health outcomes and science — not politics — will guide these decisions... This effort will be guided by data." On Tuesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom laid out a set of six indicators the state will be looking at before modifying state orders, including the state's ability to monitor communities through testing and contact tracing and the ability for businesses and schools to have physical distancing.
The political backdrop for the governors is a White House administration that is bullish in reigniting and reopening the economy. So much so, when asked on Monday about the two task forces, Trump said he has "total" authority over the decision to lift state lockdowns and said, "they can't do anything without the approval of the president of the United States." Governors from both parties disagreed with Trump's interpretation. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, said on CNN that while he'd love to have President Trump's cooperation, "individual governors who made those decisions will have the ultimate decision about what to do with their states." On Tuesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, told CBS This Morning co-host Tony Dokoupil that Mr. Trump's claim was "absurd." But Cuomo said in his press conference later Tuesday that "this is no time for politics and it is no time to fight. If [Mr. Trump] wants a fight he's not going to get it from me."
A state official familiar with the plans told CBS News political correspondent Ed O'Keefe that there is growing frustration over the president's public comments about reopening the country. "This idea that Washington will tells states when to open isn't feasible — we're seeing different things on the ground. There's a frustration and each governor is going to get it across in various ways," this official added.
FROM THE CANDIDATES
Former President Obama delivered his full-throated endorsement of Biden's presidential bid, ending speculation that the two rivals might remain at odds going into the general election season. "I'm so proud to endorse Joe Biden to be president of the United States," Mr. Obama said. "Choosing Joe to be my vice president was one of the best decisions I ever made, and he became a good friend. And I believe Joe has all the qualities we need in a president right now." Mr. Obama praised Biden's actions during his administration, such as assisting in the financial recovery after the Great Recession and spearheading the response to the H1N1 pandemic. He also called for Biden's platform to go further to the left on certain issues, such as providing a public health insurance option for all Americans and expanding green initiatives to combat climate change.of Joe Biden for president on Tuesday, recording a 12-minute video to throw his support behind his former vice president. Mr. Obama's endorsement of his former vice president comes a day after Bernie Sanders gave a
Beyond the endorsement, Mr. Obama took the unusual step of criticizing his successor and congressional Republicans, though he didn't call out Mr. Trump by name. "One thing everybody has learned by now is that the Republicans occupying the White House and running the U.S. Senate are not interested in progress. They're interested in power," Mr. Obama said, citing efforts to roll back the Affordable Care Act, his signature legislative achievement, as well as environmental regulations and international agreements put in place. Urging voters to get involved in the upcoming election, he said, "it won't be easy. The other side has a massive war chest. The other side has a propaganda network with little regard for the truth." He himself pledged to hit the campaign trail to help Biden "as soon as I can." Read more about the endorsement here from CBS News' Ed O'Keefe, Jenna Gibson, Rebecca Kaplan, Bo Erickson and Grace Segers.
The Trump campaign is fundraising off Mr. Obama's endorsement of Biden, asking supporters to help "get us back on track" after the back-to-back endorsements from the former commander in chief and Sanders, according to CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga. "I can't ignore the fact that Sleepy Joe just got back-to-back endorsements from Crazy Bernie and Obama to ignite the Liberal Mob, which is why I've activated a 24 HOUR CASH SURGE," the email reads in part, imploring supporters to pitch in $5, $10, $15 or $20. "Barack Obama spent much of the last five years urging Joe Biden not to run for president out of fear that he would embarrass himself. Now that Biden is the only candidate left in the Democrat field, Obama has no other choice but to support him," said Trump 2020 Campaign Manager Brad Parscale, in a statement. "Even Bernie Sanders beat him to it. Obama was right in the first place: Biden is a bad candidate who will embarrass himself and his party. President Trump will destroy him."
LIFE AFTER 2020
Senators Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Baldwin and Patty Murray are calling on the Food and Drug Administration to ease restrictions on a drug used in medically induced abortions during the COVID-19 pandemic. CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak says the senators asked FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn to temporarily lift distribution restrictions on mifepristone, one of two drugs used together for a medication abortion or to treat a miscarriage, citing a temporary FDA policy that the agency not enforce some laboratory testing for certain drugs. "People who need an abortion cannot delay care and should not needlessly risk coronavirus exposure," the senators wrote in a letter sent Tuesday. The letter echoed one nearly two dozen state attorneys general sent last week to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the FDA.
IN THE HOUSE
Michigan Congressman Justin Amash teased at a potential third-party presidential run on Twitter Monday night. Amash tweeted that "Americans who believe in limited government deserve another option" and Mr. Trump's claim about having "total" authority. After Hannah Cox, a conservative writer, replied "Please be you," Amash replied he'll be "looking at it closely this week." Amash, who broke off from the Republican party last year and declared himself an independent, has previously been considered as a potential presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party. Dan Fishman, the Libertarian executive director, told CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro that Amash has not been in contact with the party recently but that if Amash runs, it'd likely be with the Libertarian party. "It'd be a natural fit," he said. "Considering the way that we are aligned, Justin Amash has been in the Republican party but he certainly represents the vision of a much less powerful federal government which is aligned with the Libertarian vision. If he were going to run in a party, I would imagine that he would run in the Libertarian Party." Fishman added that due to how the delegate system works within the party, it would not be too late for Amash to declare and secure the party's nomination at their May conventions.
A week after Wisconsin's election, CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster says it appears that turnout numbers fell in line with recent spring elections during presidential primary years. According to unofficial turnout results posted by the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC), 1,551,711 people, 34.3% of the voting age population, voted in Wisconsin's election last Tuesday. The numbers are a drop from the 2.1 million people (47.4% of the voting age population) who voted during the 2016 spring election, but both Republicans and Democrats had competitive presidential primaries when Wisconsinites voted that year. It was a jump from the 1.1 million voters, (26.1% of the voting age population), who participated in 2012. It was the second-highest total turnout, and essentially tied the second highest turnout percentage, of any spring election since 2000, according to Charles Franklin, the director of the Marquette University Law School poll. As of this morning, clerks reported that 1,117,328 absentee ballots were returned. Based on that metric, about 70% of voters voted absentee, which is a huge jump from previous elections. Data posted by Ben Burden, director of the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, shows that absentee voting typically hovers around 10% in elections since 2014, with spikes during general elections. The 2016 general election had the highest percentage of absentee votes cast, 27.27%, of any general election dating back to 1988, according to WEC data.
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