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Kamala Harris, Val Demings, Elizabeth Warren, Biden VP hopefuls face George Floyd protests dilemma

Sen. Kamala D. Harris marched with protesters in Washington, while Rep. Val Demings accused President Trump of inflaming riots. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan-Grisham, meanwhile, condemned the violent protests in her state but bucked fellow governors and refused to deploy the National Guard. Each of these women vying to be the running mate of presumed…

Kamala Harris, Val Demings, Elizabeth Warren, Biden VP hopefuls face George Floyd protests dilemma

Sen. Kamala D. Harris marched with protesters in Washington, while Rep. Val Demings accused President Trump of inflaming riots. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan-Grisham, meanwhile, condemned the violent protests in her state but bucked fellow governors and refused to deploy the National Guard.

Each of these women vying to be the running mate of presumed Democratic presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden faces the same dilemma as the party as a whole: how to strike the right note in sharing outrage over the killing of a black man at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis last month without getting tied to the more extreme violence that has erupted.

The choices are made more stark when Mr. Trump, from the pulpit of the White House, insists there is no middle ground between law and order and the chaos of the protests.

“You have to strike a balance between order and empathy,” said Brad Bannon, a Democratic strategist. By doing that, there is an opportunity to draw a contrast with Mr. Trump, who he said “is all order and has no empathy.”

The death of George Floyd on Memorial Day upended the politics of the moment, which had been saturated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Democratic governors such as Andrew Cuomo in New York and Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan were engaged in verbal battles with Mr. Trump and the federal government over how to respond.

With Mr. Biden saying he would pick a woman as his vice presidential nominee, Ms. Whitmer was drawing plenty of attention.

But the focus on racial matters has pushed COVID-19 and Ms. Whitmer off the front pages and replaced them with the likes of Ms. Harris, Ms. Demings and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who represents Minnesota and who managed to grab headlines this week by being the first to announce more officers would be charged in connection with Mr. Floyd’s death.

Ms. Klobuchar showed up for Mr. Floyd’s memorial service on Thursday, flummoxing some liberal activists who say she went easy on bad cops as a county prosecutor before she was elected to the Senate.

A Morning Consult poll released this week found the country transfixed by the issue. More than 90% of respondents said they had paid attention to the coverage, and two-thirds said they had been following the news “a lot.”

According to the poll, 49% said the protests were generally peaceful and 42% said most of the protesters were intent on violence. About 58% said they would support calling in the military to help police regain control.

Trying to navigate those views is proving to be tricky.

Mr. Trump has shown no reticence about which side he is taking.

He has pressured governors to call in the National Guard and warned he would deploy the military if he thought it was needed. He accused Democrats of coddling violent elements believed to be stoking some of the rioting and looting.

“If you watch Fake News @CNN or MSDNC, you would think that the killers, terrorists, arsonists, anarchists, thugs, hoodlums, looters, ANTIFA & others, would be the nicest, kindest most wonderful people in the Whole Wide World,” Mr. Trump said this week. “No, they are what they are – very bad for our Country!”

He followed that up Thursday by saying the “Radical Left Democrats new theme is ‘Defund the Police’” and proposed to pump more money into law enforcement.

“Remember that when you don’t want Crime, especially against you and your family,” he said. “This is where Sleepy Joe is being dragged by the socialists.”

Mr. Biden, meanwhile, has said there is no place for looting or destroying property or businesses. “We need to distinguish between legitimate peaceful protest and opportunistic violent destruction,” he said.

Mr. Trump appears to be losing the public relations battle.

A CBS poll released Thursday found that 31% of adults are satisfied with the way the president has responded to the situation in Minneapolis, compared with 66% who are dissatisfied. An Emerson poll released Wednesday showed that 36% of registered voters approved of the way the president responded to Mr. Floyd’s death and 47% disapproved.

Mr. Bannon said it is “crystal clear” that Mr. Biden should tap a black woman for his vice presidential candidate and the biggest surprise perhaps has been Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who was forceful in condemning the violent protests that rocked her city.

“This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. This is chaos,” Ms. Bottoms said at a press conference last week. She said voting and peaceful protests are the best tools to effectuate change.

“You are disgracing the life of George Floyd and every other person who has been killed in this country,” she said. “We are better than this.”

Oddsmakers say Ms. Bottoms’ chances of taking the No. 2 spot on the Democratic ticket have increased. U.S. bookies give her a 14-1 chance of being the vice presidential candidate, matching the odds of Stacey Abrams, the voter rights activist who nearly won the Georgia governor’s race in 2018.

Ms. Abrams wrote an op-ed that appeared Thursday in The New York Times arguing that the Floyd killing underscores the importance of expanding voting rights and going “to war to defend the sacred” right.

“I am not calling for violent revolt here,” Ms. Abrams said.

“Every night for more than a week, we have witnessed the anguish and anger of demonstrators, their cries punctured by politicians urging them to vote their power,” she said. “Both are right. Protest to demand attention to the wrenching pain of systemic injustice. Vote because we deserve leaders who see us, who hear us and who are willing to act on our demands.”

Oddsmakers say Ms. Harris, a former California attorney general, remains the favorite to be Mr. Biden’s running mate. She is followed by Ms. Demings, a former police chief in Orlando, Florida, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

With her husband, Bruce Mann, and dog Bailey in tow, Ms. Warren joined protesters outside the White House on Tuesday to voice her opposition to law enforcement officials’ decision to fire pepper balls and smoke canisters at protesters to clear a path for Mr. Trump to hold up a Bible outside of St. John’s Church, which protesters set afire Sunday night.

“The president of the United States tear-gassed peaceful protesters in order to clear the way for a useless photo-op outside the White House — just after vowing to activate the military against our own people,” Ms. Warren said in a Twitter post. “Lives and our democracy are in danger.”

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Harris County wins challenge on citizenship checks on new voters

A Texas court rejected a conservative group’s demand that Harris County automatically reject, or at least investigate, voter registration forms submitted by people who say they aren’t U.S. citizens, delivering a win to the county registrar Wednesday. The Public Interest Legal Foundation said it uncovered dozens of examples of people who had not only been…

Harris County wins challenge on citizenship checks on new voters

A Texas court rejected a conservative group’s demand that Harris County automatically reject, or at least investigate, voter registration forms submitted by people who say they aren’t U.S. citizens, delivering a win to the county registrar Wednesday.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation said it uncovered dozens of examples of people who had not only been added to the voter rolls but even cast ballots — only to later be stricken from the rolls because they had not actually been citizens at the time.

PILF had asked the 14th Court of Appeals in Houston to issue an order demanding the registrar do more to weed out those instances. The court dismissed the request.

“This was the correct outcome,” said Registrar Ann Harris Bennett.

She had downplayed the PILF investigation, with her office saying the instances found were “mistakenly accepted almost a decade ago” and were “promptly” caught and corrected.

Logan Churchwell, a PILF staffer who compiled the data for the lawsuit, said they are assessing their legal options, but said their investigation stands on its own.

“The facts are still clear: Harris County has proven to register foreign nationals to vote despite their admitting at the time to be foreign nationals,” he said. “We must not lose sight of the fact that Harris County, by all appearances, has set these immigrants up to fail despite their honesty about their lacking eligibility.”

PILF’s investigation looked at voters the county itself had once registered, then later kicked of its rolls because it realized they weren’t citizens.

In at about 50 cases, PILF found, the people had actually told officials they weren’t citizens, checking “NO” next to that question on the registration form. In five other cases PILF found, they left that field blank. They were registered anyway.

PILF said they were usually taken off the rolls after they responded to some subsequent government communication, such as a jury summons, by asserting they weren’t in fact citizens.

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Kamala Harris, Symone Sanders reject calls to cancel future debates: ‘Joe Biden is going to show up’

Joseph R. Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris, and his campaign senior adviser have rejected calls from a slew of media personalities to cancel future presidential debates after Tuesday night’s explosive first face-off against President Trump. CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Mrs. Harris, “Very simple question, after what went down this evening, do you think…

Kamala Harris, Symone Sanders reject calls to cancel future debates: ‘Joe Biden is going to show up’

Joseph R. Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris, and his campaign senior adviser have rejected calls from a slew of media personalities to cancel future presidential debates after Tuesday night’s explosive first face-off against President Trump.

CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Mrs. Harris, “Very simple question, after what went down this evening, do you think Joe Biden should participate in a second or third debate?”

The California senator responded, “Joe Biden’s never going to refuse to talk to the American people and have any opportunity that he can to speak directly to American families and speak about the issues, speak the truth, and address the facts of where we are now, but also address the hopes and dreams of the American family and where we could be, and Joe’s got a plan for dealing with those hopes and aspirations as well.”

“I do believe the American people benefited from a clear contrast from what they’ve got right now, but also what they can get,” she added.

Biden campaign senior adviser Symone Sanders echoed that sentiment, saying the Democratic nominee’s ability to look into the camera and speak directly to the American people is too valuable to give up.

During an interview with MSNBC’s Brian Williams, Ms. Sanders was asked to describe the scene backstage after the debate, which is being described as nothing short of a debacle.

Mr. Williams asked, “Did no one on the payroll say, ‘I don’t know why we’re gonna do this again. All the norms were blown up tonight. Why bother with rules or moderators or time limits? Why are we doing any more of these?’ No one expressed that view?”

“Brian,” Ms. Sanders answered, “when Vice President Biden came off the debate stage tonight, we went back and then told him he did an excellent job. He broke through, speaking directly to the American people. And all Donald Trump did was sow chaos, and he lied.”

“Look, we’re going to come back and do this again in Miami,” she continued. “When you are running to be president of the United States and when you’re running to represent the people, you have to be accountable to them. And Joe Biden is going to show up, and he’s going to answer the people’s questions in Miami. He’s going to take questions from voters across the state of Florida about the most pressing issues facing them. Now, Donald Trump, we all know what he’s going to do. I hope he’s not going to belittle and berate voters in Florida, but you know what? You never know, Brian. But Joe Biden will be there to show you exactly what you can get post-November 3rd if folks go to the polls and elect him as the next president of the United States.”

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Kamala Harris asserts role in Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings

Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala D. Harris said Monday that she will “definitely” be involved in the upcoming confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court. “I am definitely going to be involved in the hearings and performing my role and responsibility on the Senate Judiciary Committee,” Ms.…

Kamala Harris asserts role in Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings

Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala D. Harris said Monday that she will “definitely” be involved in the upcoming confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court.

“I am definitely going to be involved in the hearings and performing my role and responsibility on the Senate Judiciary Committee,” Ms. Harris said while campaigning in North Carolina.

The committee’s hearings are scheduled to start on Oct. 12, which would sideline Ms. Harris from the campaign trail during a crucial stretch but would give her a high-profile platform to be a part of the must-watch event.

Asked if she planned to meet with Judge Barrett, Ms. Harris said: “I’m sure that’s going to happen, we’ll see how it works out … I haven’t made a plan one way or another.”

At least two judiciary committee Democrats – Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii – have indicated that they don’t plan to meet personally with Judge Barrett before the hearings.

Ms. Harris said she wanted to focus on what’s “within our power” in the next five weeks when asked if Democrats could slow down the nomination or retaliate if Joseph R. Biden defeats Mr. Trump in the presidential election.

“What’s in our power is to elect Joe Biden president of the United States,” she said.

Earlier in the day, Ms. Harris said she didn’t plan to let the “infection” that Mr. Trump has spread throughout the country make its way to the Supreme Court.

The senator from California was credited with tough questioning during the battle over Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation, though Democrats failed to ultimately block Justice Kavanaugh from getting confirmed in 2018.

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