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2020 Daily Trail Markers: Indiana becomes latest state to delay primary due to coronavirus

Indiana was the latest state to change its presidential primary date due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, joining six other states that have postponed their primary elections, reports CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro. Ohio, Louisiana, Maryland, Kentucky, Connecticut and now Indiana will have their elections in June, and Georgia postponed its elections until May 19. In an executive order, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb said vote by mail will be allowed for all voters, and that ballots meant for the original May 5 date will still be valid.

Puerto Rico could be the next to be added to the list after its senate approved of moving the election to April 26, pending an official signing by Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced. Republican Congressional candidate Mike Garcia said in a virtual town hall Thursday night that California's 25th special general election to fill Katie Hill's former seat will remain on May 12. He said mail-in ballots will be sent to voters in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties starting on April 15, though he did not know yet if in-person voting would still be an option. "It's a whole new world and the way we've been campaigning has changed dramatically," he added. 

FROM THE CANDIDATES

JOE BIDEN

Joe Biden held a press call Tuesday from his Delaware home and answered questions on the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus crisis, CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson reports. He also pulled back the curtain on how his campaign is managing its day-to-day operation during this time of health hypervigilance. Biden said  that throughout the coronavirus response, President Trump "has been behind the curve." He added that he believes the president is falsely telling the American people about action that he has not actually taken. On coronavirus testing efforts, Biden said "it was simply a lie" when the president promised that tests were available for anyone who wanted one. "Where the hell did that come from?" Biden pondered about some of Mr. Trump's other statements, like the promise of the U.S. Navy ship Comfort to assist the lack of hospital beds in New York. Biden said the public only learned later the ship was currently in maintenance and wouldn't arrive for weeks. For his part during this social distancing time, Biden told reporters that his campaign — with the help of a "professional team" — is in process of working on how to best communicate with the public and reporters. 

CBS News is told the campaign's virtual communication strategy is expected to be in place this weekend. Biden is spending his days with four to five hours of going over "detailed memorandum" on the virus and he estimated spending around 7 hours each day on the phone with those on the front lines like hospital workers, mayors and governors. "A helluva job," Biden said about New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Responding to a question from CBS News' Ed O'Keefe, Biden reiterated he would put the Defense Protection Act into effect to assist greater production of in-need medical items. The former vice president also hat-tipped some small businesses like distilleries that are making hand sanitizer. Biden noted his team continues to follow CDC guidelines, so the limited staff that are around him are wearing gloves and masks. "Promise you are going to hear more from me than you want to," Biden told reporters in signing off from the call.

LIFE AFTER 2020

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG

Former presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg announced Friday he's transferring $18 million to the Democratic National Committee's Coordinated Campaign to help Democrats running up and down the ballot. CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice says the move by the billionaire's self-funded campaign is the largest by a presidential campaign in recent history and falls within federal campaign finance laws that allow for the unlimited transfers from candidate committees to party committees. At the same time, the Bloomberg campaign will transfer several of its former field offices to state parties and help accelerate hiring for positions in organizing, data and operations. In a memo on Tuesday to DNC chair Tom Perez, the Bloomberg campaign said Bloomberg's number-one objective in 2020 is defeating Mr. Trump and helping Democrats win in November. "Mike Bloomberg entered this race to ensure Democrats win — keeping the House blue, flipping the Senate, winning key state and local races, and taking back the White House — and this commitment through November helps do exactly that," it read. "By supporting the Democratic Party, we look forward to November and taking on our unified goal of beating Donald Trump."

According to the Bloomberg campaign, it hopes the $18 million investment will help "dramatically expand" the DNC's Battleground Build-Up 2020 program. The effort began in January to help lay the groundwork for an eventual Democratic nominee and down ballot candidates in the general election. It focuses on funding offices and staff in 12 states including Arizona, Georgia, Ohio, Florida, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. "With this transfer from the Bloomberg campaign, Mayor Bloomberg and his team are making good on their commitment to beating Donald Trump," said Perez in a statement. As part of its General Election Unity Program, the DNC said it's working with all of the former primary presidential campaigns to transfer infrastructure including staffing, fundraising and other programs into helping supporting Democrats' general election efforts.

ANDREW YANG

Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang's brand-new nonprofit plans to contribute more than $1 million to working families impacted by the novel coronavirus outbreak in New York City and across the country, the group announced on Friday. The Humanity Forward Fund, a nonprofit founded by Yang after he suspended his 2020 presidential campaign, will begin sending $1,000 over the next couple of weeks to 1,000 households in New York City's Bronx borough. "We figured out very quickly that people are going to need money immediately. And our government should do this," Andrew Yang told CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga in a phone interview on Friday. "[This fund] exists to demonstrate the power of these ideas, so we started giving money out immediately." Yang is no stranger to cash stipends. Before the coronavirus crisis in the U.S., Yang, then a presidential candidate, proposed granting every adult American monthly payments of $1,000, turning the concept of "Universal Basic Income" into a household name, for many.  His presidential campaign launched a "Freedom Dividend Pilot Program" to test and promote his signature policy, in December 2019.

CONGRESSIONAL COVERAGE

IN THE HOUSE

House candidates in Georgia from both sides of the aisle are calling for the resignation of Senator Kelly Loeffler after it was revealed she sold stock after a Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee coronavirus briefing and before the stock market dropped. CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro says Mark Gonsalves, a Republican businessman, tweeted that "Taking advantage of the Coronavirus pandemic for personal financial gain is an alarming lack of judgement that renders Sen Loeffler unfit to represent Georgia in the US Senate." Gonsalves added "we cannot claim to 'Drain the Swamp' in DC and be afraid to call out our own party for swampy behavior... Bad behavior from the political class should not be tolerated, it's time to stop the nonsense! We can no longer accept their phony excuses." Loeffler said on Fox News she was not aware of the transactions before they occurred, and that the action was made by third-party investment managers. Democratic frontrunner Carolyn Bourdeaux called for Loeffler's resignation in a statement, and said "when she could have used her knowledge and vast financial resources to help Georgia hospitals stock up on facemasks and other lifesaving supplies, our Senator downplayed concerns and thought it was more important to protect her bottom line." 

In committee news, a new internal DCCC poll shared by a Democratic aide shows that 49% of registered voters approve of the actions taken on coronavirus by Congressional Democrats, with 45% approval of how Trump has handled the pandemic and 42% for Congressional Republicans. The poll, which was taken between March 11 and 16, painted a bit of a different picture than the latest ABC/Ipsos poll of all adults that showed 55% approval for how Mr. Trump has handled the pandemic.  

Lastly, on the money front, according to their February FEC filing, the DCCC brought in more than $11.5 million in direct contributions from February, bringing their total war chest to $72.5 million. By comparison, the National Republican Congressional Committee raised $9.6 million in direct contributions, and have $45.1 million cash on hand.

ACTS OF KINDNESS

CARE PACKAGES

Starting on Wednesday, March 18, and going through the weekend, Michigan Republican Congressional candidate Peter Meijer's campaign will be delivering care packages to vulnerable communities. Operation F.R.E.D., named after Peter's grandfather and founder of the Meijer grocery stores Frederik Meijer, uses already-donated campaign funds to bring $25 to $50 worth of groceries and toiletries to groups that request the help online. CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro reports that it's an effort that Meijer campaign spokesperson Noah Sadler said was created after taking a look at how to campaign during the coronavirus pandemic, and realizing the traditional way of doing it "is not going to suffice right now."

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story said that Senator Kelly Loeffler had attended a classified briefing on coronavirus. It was a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee briefing on the topic. This article has been updated.

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