The Republican and Democratic parties — from the presidential candidates on down — are taking polar opposite approaches to door-to-door canvassing this fall. The competing bets on the value of face-to-face campaigning during a pandemic has no modern precedent, making it a potential wild card in November, especially in close races.
In three crucial swing states, former Vice President Joe Biden is underperforming with Hispanic voters compared to Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Exit polls conducted by CNNLOL show that in Florida, Hillary beat Trump by 37 points with Hispanics in 2016, compared to Joe Biden’s lead of just eight percent over the president.
In Georgia, Hillary beat Trump by a whopping 40 points with Hispanics. Biden is only ahead of the president by 25 points.
In Ohio, Hillary topped Trump by 41 points. Biden is only up 24 points.
Regardless of who wins the election, this is a rejection of the Democrats’ racial identity politics, and if Trump wins because of Hispanics, the Democrat Party will not know what to do with itself.
Becoming a United States citizen was meaningful to me for a great number of reasons. German by birth, I had come to feel at home in America, and to love it. For all the deep injustices that shape this country, I remained convinced that the United States was more likely than just about any other place in the world to build a thriving, diverse democracy. And when I wrote about the danger that right-wing populists like Donald Trump pose to the American republic, I cherished being able to speak about his assault on our, as opposed to your, values and institutions.
Alongside all these serious reasons, I also had a very practical one: the power of the U.S. passport. It granted access to just about everywhere, and escape from just about anywhere. Which country—Germany or the United States—would be more likely to rescue me if I got stuck in some foreign country in the middle of a perilous political crisis? Would the last plane to evacuate foreigners from Chad or Chile or Canada before that country devolved into civil war be sent by the Bundeswehr or the U.S. Air Force?
U.S. citizenship not only ensured that I could choose to live in New York or San Francisco or any place in between; it also seemed to offer the freedom to roam the world in the assurance that, as my passport’s old-fashioned preamble promises, “the Secretary of State of the United States of America” would see to it that I could “pass without delay or hindrance and in case of need [enjoy] all lawful aid and protection.”
But in this Year of the Pandemic, that promise rings hollow. My German passport, which I was able to retain when I naturalized, currently entitles me to travel almost anywhere in the world. My American passport can gain me access to only a handful of countries—not including Germany or the majority of developed democracies in Asia, Europe, Australia, or South America. The coronavirus is so out of control here that other nations (understandably) fear contamination from our citizens.
My assumption about which country would go to greater lengths to repatriate its citizens in a time of crisis appears to have been wrong, as well. Germany would welcome me back with open arms from this COVID-addled land, though I could be asked to self-isolate. But a draft proposal now circulating in the Trump administration indicates that the U.S. may seek to stop its citizens and legal permanent residents from returning to America from abroad if a border agent “reasonably believes that the individual either may have been exposed to or is infected with the communicable disease.”
Such a proposal would, despite its cruelty, at least have a certain practical utility in countries such as Australia or New Zealand, which have had barely any COVID-19 cases in recent months. But if the plan becomes a reality in the United States, which is discovering some 50,000 cases a day without any help from the outside world, it will add idiocy to injury.
When I became a citizen, back in March 2017, I knew that President Trump would seek to destroy many of the American values I admire. I did not imagine that he would also fail to “leave no man behind.” Shouldn’t that credo hold special appeal to a man who claims to care about protecting America from a dangerous world? Instead of using his office to protect Americans, Trump has capitulated to the coronavirus at home; now his administration may also try to betray Americans abroad.
There’s no state that will serve as a better bellwether of the political environment this year than Iowa, a mostly rural, racially homogenous state featuring plenty of close congressional races. If President Trump loses further ground in the suburbs but maintains support with his white working-class base, Republicans should fare well in the Hawkeye State and maybe even pick up a House seat or two. But if the GOP’s collapse is all-encompassing, Trump is in danger of losing a political stronghold, and Democrats would be well-positioned to win a majority-making Senate seat.
Polls show Iowa is as up for grabs as ever. President Trump won the state by 9 points in 2016, but a new Monmouth poll shows his lead has shrunk to just 3 points. The same poll showed Sen. Joni Ernst leading her Democratic opponent, Theresa Greenfield, by 2 points. Three of the state’s four House races are genuine battlegrounds, currently held by Democrats; the Monmouth survey found Democrats leading in two and Republicans leading in one. But both parties’ internal polling shows all three races highly competitive and could tip in either direction.
The state serves as a reminder that there are still persuadable voters in politics, at a time of rampant political polarization. Iowa features the largest proportion of Obama-Trump voters in the country, comfortably supporting Trump in 2016 after backing Barack Obama by a double-digit margin in the 2008 election. The midterms offered a split decision: Gov. Kim Reynolds won a hard-fought election, but Democrats picked up two House seats in hotly contested campaigns.
It’s not a coincidence that the Trump campaign has been keenly focused on winning Iowa. Vice President Mike Pence is paying particular attention to Iowa, making his third trip to the state during the pandemic next week. Trump visited the state in June to promote ethanol production.
But while the presidential race is taking center stage, it’s the downballot races that will tell more of the political story for 2020. If Trump doesn’t carry Iowa, it’s almost impossible to envision how he wins the presidency. And even if he prevails, Democrats still have plenty of pathways to 270 electoral votes. At the presidential level, the state will simply show whether Trump managed to maintain support with the prairie populists that fueled his initial victory.
In the battle for the Senate, however, there’s no bigger contest in the country. If Ernst manages to win a second term, Republicans have a credible shot at salvaging their majority—or at least holding Democrats to 50 Senate seats (making Sen. Joe Manchin, no friend to liberals, a powerbroker). It would underscore the persistent demographic crosscurrents in the electorate, where college-educated suburbanites have moved into the Democratic column while blue-collar Midwestern voters keep Republicans afloat.
But if Greenfield prevails, it would suggest that Democrats have cracked the working-class code to expand their coalition. Greenfield, an earnest but inexperienced candidate, is far from the highest-profile challenger that Senate Democrats recruited. If she succeeds, it would be a sign that Democrats have a shot at winning a red-state battleground like Montana, where popular Gov. Steve Bullock is their standard-bearer. Put those states on the board for Democrats, and the Senate majority expands to the point where the party would be able to pass consequential legislation.
The state’s House battlegrounds, all of which Trump carried in 2016, are equally intriguing. Republicans view TV anchor-turned-state legislator Ashley Hinson as one of their top recruits, running against freshman Rep. Abby Finkenauer in eastern Iowa’s 1st District. But while Trump carried the working-class district by 3 points in 2016—after Obama carried it by 14 points four years earlier—Republican and Democratic strategists agree that he’s lost his edge since then. Finkenauer was an early and enthusiastic Joe Biden booster; if he wins the district, she’s well-positioned to prevail. (The Monmouth poll showed Finkenauer leading, 51 to 41 percent.)
The 2nd District is an open-seat race to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack. The district is a mix of small farm towns alongside the urban population center of Davenport and Iowa City, home to the University of Iowa. State Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, running for the fourth time, led Democratic 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Rita Hart by 3 points in the Monmouth survey. But Democrats believe that as Hart parlays her fundraising advantage, she’ll be able to erase any early deficit.
The 3rd District is the most suburban in the state, covering Des Moines and its suburbs while also including the beef-grazing territory of southwest Iowa to the Nebraska border. The race is a rematch from 2018, pitting freshman Rep. Cindy Axne against former Rep. David Young. A July internal poll for Young’s campaign showed the former congressman leading Axne by 1 point, an encouraging sign given the rough political environment for Republicans. But if the suburban part of the district swings away from Republicans, it will be challenging for Young to overcome.
All of these races hinge on the national environment. If Trump manages to win the state, it’s an encouraging sign for downballot Republicans during a time of minimal split-ticket voting. But if Biden adds Iowa to the list of states that he flips, it would suggest a big blue wave wiped out the GOP’s chances of maintaining power in Washington.
Donald Trump’s campaign says it knocked on over 1 million doors in the past week alone.
Joe Biden’s campaign says it knocked on zero.
Biden and the Democratic National Committee aren’t sending volunteers or staffers to talk with voters at home, and don’t anticipate doing anything more than dropping off literature unless the crisis abates. The campaign and the Democratic National Committee think they can compensate for the lack of in-person canvassing with phone calls, texts, new forms of digital organizing, and virtual meet-ups with voters.
“At first I was nervous, but our response rates on phone calls and texts are much higher and people are not necessarily wanting someone to go up to their door right now,” said Jenn Ridder, Biden’s national states director. “You get to throw a lot of the rule book out the window and try out new things.”
Trump and the Republican National Committee, in contrast, started deploying mask-wearing field staffers and volunteers to the streets in June. The GOP quickly ramped up and now claims more than a million doors a week despite Covid-19 surges across the country, including in swing states like Arizona.
Republicans say their door-knocking dominance could make a difference in November, since in-person conversations have long been considered the most effective type of voter contact.
“From now to Election Day, voters may only see one campaign at their doors,” Elliott Echols, the RNC’s national field director. “If this were Barack Obama running, Democrats would want to be out there knocking doors. They don’t have enthusiasm or a strong field operation, so it is a convenient excuse. We can do this safely for President Trump and Republicans up and down the ballot.”
Both campaigns are funneling millions of dollars into their field programs. Trump Victory has over 1,500 full-time staffers across 23 states, and it has required staffers to read “Groundbreakers: How Obama’s 2.2 Million Volunteers Transformed Campaigning in America,” a close look at Obama’s 2008 and 2012 ground games. The RNC says they will add an additional 1,000 people by the end of September to focus on doors and get out the vote.
Biden’s organizing program was slow to ramp up after the primary. Senior leadership for critical states like Florida and Pennsylvania were announced only in July and the campaign set a goal of just 600 hires by the end of June. The Biden campaign, however, told POLITICO it will have over 2,000 battleground staffers by the end of August through a coordinated committee with the DNC.
Political scientists disagree on the extent to which organizing programs matter, but it’s broadly acknowledged that they can sway a close race and that they are particularly effective in turning out base voters. Operatives say such organizing could be even more important than usual this fall because of the surge in mail-in ballots.
Reminding voters to fill out their ballot and then collecting them — or “ballot catching,” as some field organizers call it — is one of the most critical programs on any campaign, although laws on it vary by state. Biden campaign staffers said they likely would not do in-person ballot collection but expressed optimism that they could deploy an effective program regardless through phone and text, pointing to their successful efforts in Wisconsin this spring in a state Supreme Court race.
The decision to forgo door-knocking is part of a larger gamble that voters will give Biden credit for taking the coronavirus more seriously than Trump. The strategy has extended to Biden’s own activities: He’s been mocked by Trump for campaigning from his basement, though Biden has ventured out to more public events lately. The campaign’s Philadelphia headquarters is mostly empty, and many new hires are working remotely.
Trump and his campaign have been far less restrained, betting that voters won’t be turned off by campaign workers ringing their doorbells. Officials report to work at Trump campaign headquarters in suburban Washington, D.C., where some have said they feel peer pressure not to wear masks.
Some Democratic operatives believe that Biden’s shift to phone and digital will end up redounding to his benefit.
“Politics is the last remaining marketing entity — which essentially is what a campaign is — that utilizes door knocking as a technique,” said Michael Halle, a former senior adviser to Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign. “The Trump approach of measuring door knocks is very antiquated and I think the Biden campaign may be following that model if they hadn’t been forced to think differently because they’re acting responsibly in a pandemic.”
The dueling approaches are apparent in down-ballot races as well — a dynamic that is giving some Democrats anxiety and stoking anger at Republicans for their lack of caution. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said its field staffers are being trained for organizing that’s not done in-person. A Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesperson was not aware of any Democratic Senate campaign doing in-person canvassing.
The RNC declined to say whether any field staffers or volunteers have tested positive for Covid-19 but said every staff member is provided an eight-page document of health protocols including CDC guidance. The committee said it provides canvassers with masks and encourages them to take a few steps back after knocking on doors. A spokesperson added that the committee has spent over $100,000 on PPE and office cleaning.
“I think it’s possible to do it in a responsible way, preferably not in a state where trends are going the wrong way,” said Dr. Howard Koh, the former assistant secretary for Health during the Obama administration. “If somebody is outside and stays outside and stands 6 feet away and masks are mandatory—not optional—plus has gloves and hand sanitizer, I think those are acceptable guidelines to follow.” Still, he added, “Canvassing can be done virtually and that’s the best option in a time like this.”
The partisan divide over in-person campaigning is a manifestation of the deeper political divisions that have scrambled America’s response to the public health crisis. Republicans are less supportive of mask mandates and have felt more comfortable going to public places like restaurants and salons than Democrats, according to polls.
Many Republican lawmakers rallied behind small-business owners who have broken lockdown orders. Some Democratic governors and lawmakers have been much stricter about lockdowns and mask mandates, while Republicans have argued that some of the measures are creating more problems than the disease.
That divide may make it impossible for Democratic campaigns to deploy door-knockers even if they want to. Progressive Turnout Project, a deep-pocketed liberal super PAC that hired hundreds of field staffers to knock on doors in competitive states this year, began sending canvassers back into the field earlier this summer. The group soon faced a public resignation, a staffer who tested positive for Covid-19, and a revolt from lower-level employees over safety, as McClatchy first reported.
Last week, the group suspended all door-to-door canvassing and said their staffers — approximately 1,200 across 17 states — would focus on phone calls, texting and “relational organizing.”
Alex Morgan, the group’s executive director, declined to be interviewed. Asked whether he’s worried that Democrats could be at a disadvantage, he said through a spokesperson that “we hope that the coronavirus situation improves enough for progressives to return to the doors this cycle, but safety comes first.”
A quarter of Americans plan on taking their first post-coronavirus vacation as early as July and August of this year, according to new research.
The study asked 2,000 Americans about their future travel plans in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and what it would take for them to feel comfortable traveling again. It turns out that 76 percent of those surveyed said they’re already planning or will start planning for their next trip sometime in 2020.
Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of travel company Skyscanner, the survey found seven in 10 respondents feel an increased desire to travel because of the pandemic.
In fact, another 71 percent of respondents specifically said their time in lockdown has increased their desire to rekindle their relationships with extended family and pay them a visit. Sixty-three percent of respondents said they’ll need to make up for lost time on vacations this year.
But instead of packing it all into one long vacation, seven in 10 respondents said they’re planning to take multiple vacations throughout the rest of the year. This may be needed now more than ever, as 45 percent of those surveyed were in agreement that taking a vacation is very important for their well-being.
More than half of those surveyed also expressed an increased desire to complete their travel bucket list once they have the chance.
Sixty-nine percent of respondents said they planned to make their next vacations more focused on nature and enjoying the outdoors after being cooped up inside.
Nearly half of those surveyed said they plan to visit beaches and the countryside once they are able to. Forty-three percent of respondents showed interest in heading out to the mountains for their next trip and 42 percent plan on visiting rural towns.
“Whether renting a car for an unforgettable road trip or enjoying a stay at a nearby campground, Americans will find plenty of options for a summer vacation that allows for fun in the sun while social distancing,” said Juliano Lopez, head of research and insights at Skyscanner.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also led respondents to reevaluate their accommodation options once they arrive at their destinations.
Only one in five respondents said they would feel comfortable staying at a home rental, whereas 33 percent said they would opt to stay in a larger hotel.
“Though this summer there are many more factors to take into account when considering a summer trip, vacation planning doesn’t need to feel like a chore,” added Lopez. “Look for a site like Skyscanner that allows travelers to book flight, hotel and car rentals in one place as well as provides up-to-date information on flexible cancellation policies and coronavirus restrictions.”
Colleges are hiking the price of tuition and living fees despite a decrease in classroom learning and student services.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), New York University, the University of Southern California (USC), and Indiana University are among several universities raising tuition and other fees in the upcoming academic year. These institutions will raise the cost of tuition and living expenses by an average of $1,511 while minimizing services, amenities, and in-person classroom learning.
Tuition hikes come as universities struggle to adapt to the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced schools to send students home from campus and adopt alternative teaching methods. Colleges fear tuition revenue will decrease as they transition to online programming, but students are more concerned that they are paying exorbitant rates with little return.
“As students, we still do not know what classes will be in-person or online,” said UIUC College Republicans president Matthew Krauter. “We do not know what activities the university will offer or what events our student organizations may hold. The decision to raise the cost of tuition and campus life while simultaneously scaling back activities and in-person education is tone-deaf.”
Colleges justify the tuition and fee increase by citing the fixed operation costs and decisions made before the pandemic. UIUC will raise in-state student tuition by 4.5 percent to a minimum of $32,814 and out-of-state tuition will rise by 3.5 percent to $50,604 in the 2020-2021 academic year.
University of Illinois spokesman Jan Dennis told the Washington Free Beacon that the public university—which received $1.9 billion in taxpayer funds in 2019— would not roll back costs, though it is attempting to expand scholarship programs.
“The tuition increase was approved in January, before the pandemic,” Dennis said. “[The University of Illinois] system created a new fund that will provide at least $36 million to help students facing increased financial need due to COVID.”
According to a UIUC press briefing, the university plans to uphold the six-feet social distancing guideline in classrooms, and students will be required to wear masks on campus. But the school is also scaling back the traditional services it provides to students. Residence halls will have limited occupancy, and dining centers will transition to take-out centers. USC announced similar plans in early June, but reversed course on July 1 when it announced a transition to online instruction, citing Los Angeles County health guidelines. A USC spokesman directed the Washington Free Beacon to a university tweet about the Trump administration’s decision to force foreign students to return home if classes do not reconvene in the fall. He refused to answer questions about tuition hikes.
Students are upset with the disconnect—traditional universities have moved online, but still cost far more than existing e-learning programs. At Indiana University, students were told they would be learning almost exclusively online despite the decision by the board of trustees to increase tuition.
“I found out five of my six classes were moved online for the fall, on top of that, my tuition is increasing by more than 5 percent [since 2019],” an IU rising sophomore told the Free Beacon. “This isn’t fair and it’s frustrating for students, like me, who feel web-based learning isn’t sufficient.”
Indiana University did not return a request for comment.
Social factors have long justified the high price tag of a college education. Beth Akers, a higher education expert at the Manhattan Institute, said these changes will force colleges to rethink their purpose.
“The traditional business model of higher [education] has long been a message that by having this immersive, on-campus experience, we’re creating some sort of higher education ‘magic’ that justifies this exorbitant price tag,” Akers said. “COVID has taken away the ability for colleges to offer those things that supposedly make the higher education experience so special, so valuable, and worth these very big price tags.”
NYU has not released an official statement confirming whether classes will reconvene in-person in the fall, although on July 1 the school announced it will still accept deposits for undergraduate housing. The university tells prospective students that they will pay $54,882 in tuition, as well as an estimated $19,244 in room and board next year—up from $53,308 and $18,684 for the 2019-2020 academic year. NYU did not return a request for comment.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty about what revenue will actually look like. That’s because a lot have not made a decision about whether or not to have online or in-person classes,” Akers said. “COVID is adding costs in some instances when they’re choosing to keep campuses open and others when those campuses are closing.” The college business model likely cannot withstand a price reduction in tuition as the coronavirus pandemic affects enrollment. Akers predicts there will be a drop-off in enrollment, particularly among first-year students, which will dramatically impact revenue for these colleges.
Tuition has been rising for decades, based in part on the higher earnings and job prospects that graduates enjoy. Higher education’s primacy in the job market, however, is facing challenges not just from the pandemic, but also from the White House. In June, President Trump issued an executive order to replace college degree-based hiring with skills-based hiring within the federal government. Such an approach could jeopardize a major recruiting tool for America’s colleges.
Inez Stepman, a senior policy analyst at the Independent Women’s Forum, told the Free Beacon the crash of traditional universities may be exactly what the country needs.
“The university sector, which has long been growing on the tax investment of mechanics, janitors, and the majority of Americans without a four-year degree, may see contractions for the first time in decades,” Stepman said. “Since universities have mostly abandoned their mission to shape thoughtful, informed citizens and have degenerated into activism training camps for the far left, this overdue contraction could have positive effects for the country.”
The virus is winning. That much is certain more than six months into a shape-shifting pandemic that’s killed more than 454,000 people worldwide, is gaining ground globally and has disrupted lives from Wuhan to Sao Paulo.
While promising, fast-moving vaccine projects are underway in China, Europe and the U.S., only the most optimistic expect an effective shot to be ready for global distribution this year.
If, as most experts believe, an effective vaccine won’t be ready until well into 2021, we’ll all be co-existing with the coronavirus for the next year or longer without a magic bullet. And this next phase of the
In their view, success isn’t defined as returning to life as it was in 2019. Rather, it’s about buying time and summoning the staying power and policy flexibility to limit the destructive capacity of an expanding pandemic, which may result in global deaths of more than one million according to one estimate, until there are medical tools to effectively treat and immunize against the virus. “People
Complicating matters, the perceived threat varies from neighborhood to neighborhood, let alone country to country. Much depends on the severity of local outbreaks and the effectiveness of testing, contact tracing, social distancing, hospital systems and public-health messaging that is free of political shading. Leaders such as U.S. President Donald Trump, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson or B
Not all the news is grim. In the first half of the year, governments worldwide resorted to emergency measures like forced business closures, stay-at-home rules and bans on large gatherings. The moves slowed infection, saved lives and gave leaders time to stockpile medical equipment and supplies. Yet that progress came at the cost of economic contraction, soaring unemployment and trillions of doll
Instead, the biggest economies seem intent on reopening, even if the pace varies. That, in turn, means more social mobility and more opportunities for the virus to spread. Already, scientists who track virus trends are seeing signs that re-opening is leading to a spike in cases. “I understand there is a perception of the need to balance on these economic considerations,” said Ada Adimora, an epidemic.
NEW YORK – Walmart is testing a store that will only offer self-checkout.
The retailer is removing cashiers and standard conveyor belt lines at one of its popular superstores in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Workers will still be available to help customers who have trouble doing the checkout themselves.
Depending on the success of the test run, Walmart could expand the program to more stores.
The retailer recently launched a touch-free payment system also aimed at helping mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
Health officials ordered the closure of a Walmart in suburban Denver in April after three people connected to the store died after being infected with the coronavirus and at least six employees tested positive.
South Korea said Tuesday that North Korea’s military demolished an inter-Korean liaison office building just north of the tense Korean border, only days after the Hermit Kingdom threatened a “tragic scene” at the site.
The building, located in the North Korean border town of Kaesong, was destroyed at 2:49 p.m. local time, Seoul’s Unification Ministry said.
NK News, an organization that tracks North Korean state-run media, reported that the North’s KCNA said the nation had cut off all communication between the two countries. North Korea had previously cut a key hotline with the South and had threatened to shut down all communication with its neighbor to the South.
“The north-south joint liaison office was completely ruined on Tuesday,” the propaganda statement read. “The relevant field of the DPRK put into practice the measure of completely destroying the north-south joint liaison office in the Kaesong Industrial zone in the wake of cutting off all communication ties between the north and the south, corresponding to the mindset of the enraged people to surely force human scum and those, who have sheltered the scum, to pay dearly for their crimes.”
CHINA AND NORTH KOREA RAMPING UP THEIR NUCLEAR WEAPONS ARSENALS: REPORT
North Korea had earlier threatened to demolish the building, blaming the South’s failure to stop activists from flying propaganda leaflets across the heavily militarized border, the AP reported.
Some experts believe North Korea is frustrated because Seoul is unable to resume joint economic projects due to U.S.-led sanctions.
The provocative move comes at a time of increased tensions between the two nations and stalled nuclear negotiations between North Korea and the United States, which at their high-points led to two peace summits and an in-person meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un in the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
AMID KIM JONG UN’S HEALTH RUMORS, EXPERTS ASK: IS NORTH KOREA READY FOR A FEMALE LEADER?
The North, still under harsh American sanctions, in recent days has lamented that it did not get substantial concessions out of the negotiations.
“The question is whether there will be a need to keep holding hands shaken in Singapore, as we see that there is nothing of factual improvement to be made in the DPRK-U.S. relations simply by maintaining personal relations between our supreme leadership and the U.S. president,” Foreign Minister Ri Son Gwon said in comments published Friday in state media. “Never again will we provide the U.S. chief executive with another package to be used for (political) achievements without receiving any returns.”
NORTH KOREA MARKS 2-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF TRUMP-KIM SUMMIT BY VOWING TO BUILD UP MILITARY
The South Korean Ministry of Unification released a statement last week criticizing the activists who flew the leaflets across the border, saying it damaged relations between the nations.
“The ROKG has decided to file a complaint against ‘Fighters for a Free North Korea’ … and ‘Kuensaem’ … for violating the Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Act, and begin procedures to cancel their status as non-profit corporations,” a June 10 statement read.
It continued: “The ROKG judged that the two groups violated the inbound and outbound regulations of the Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Act by flying leaflets and releasing plastic bottles toward North Korea. Such activities, directly going against agreements reached by the leaders of the two Koreas, are considered by the Government to have harmed public interests by creating tensions between the South and the North and posing a risk to the lives and safety of residents living in the border area.”
South Korea’s Blue House, in a press briefing, said that North Korea is “entirely” responsible for the provocation, and its defense ministry said it would take a “strong” stance in response, according to the Korean-language JTBC News.
On Saturday night, Kim Yo Jong, the influential sister of North Korea’s leader, warned that Seoul will soon witness “a tragic scene of the useless North-South liaison office (in North Korea) being completely collapsed.” She also said she would leave to North Korea’s military the right to take the next step of retaliation against South Korea.
“We’re taking the situation seriously,” South Korea’s Defense Ministry spokeswoman Choi Hyun-soo told a briefing, according to Reuters. “Our military is maintaining readiness posture to be able to respond to any situation.”
President Trump on Monday slammed presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as “weak & shot,” claiming that he has done more in his first term than the former vice president did in his entire career of public service.
“I’ve done more in less than 4 years than Biden’s done in more than 40 years, including for Black America,” Trump tweeted early Monday morning. “Biden has been a part of every failed decision for decades. Bad Trade Deals, Endless Wars, you name it, he has shown a complete lack of leadership.”
He added: “He’s weak & shot!!!”
The president’s tweet comes as he prepares to return to the campaign trail this week with a large rally in Tulsa, Okla., on Saturday.
The rally was slated to take place on Friday, June 19, but was rescheduled after controversy over the event coinciding with Juneteenth, a holiday that commemorates the date in 1865 that President Lincoln’s order to free American slaves reached Texas.
“We had previously scheduled our #MAGA Rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for June 19th – a big deal. Unfortunately, however, this would fall on the Juneteenth Holiday,” the president wrote late Friday. “Many of my African American friends and supporters have reached out to suggest that we consider changing the date out of respect for this Holiday, and in observance of this important occasion and all that it represents. I have therefore decided to move our rally to Saturday, June 20th, in order to honor their requests.”
During an exclusive interview last Friday with Fox News’ Harris Faulkner on “Outnumbered Overtime,” Trump said the originally planned June 19 rally should have been viewed as a “celebration” of Juneteenth rather than a scheduling conflict.
Meanwhile, a Fox News poll earlier this month revealed that Biden had a 9-point edge over Trump, at 49-40 percent, for the general election.
Biden, for his part, has repeatedly slammed Trump for his handling of the unrest over George Floyd’s death on May 25 while in the custody of Minneapolis police.
“We need a president who heals — not one who fans the flames of hate. We need a president who unites — not one who sows further discord for political gain. We need a president who leads the way with a steady hand — not one who incites violence with his erratic tweets,” Biden tweeted Sunday.