November 18, 2019

Pete Buttigieg is stuck on a polling rollercoaster.

The South Bend, Indiana, mayor and 2020 candidate got good news over the weekend when a new CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll put him at the top of the Democratic field in Iowa. But his high hopes promptly sunk with a new Quinnipiac University poll out Monday that shows him floundering in South Carolina.

Buttigieg racked up a respectable 6 percent support among likely voters in South Carolina, which will be the first southern state to hold a presidential primary next year. But when only black voters are taken into account, he earned the support of precisely 0 percent of them. Several other candidates also got negligible support among black voters, but Buttigieg has the highest percentage of white support in comparison and draws nearly all of his support from that demographic.

That dismal showing might have something to do with how 60 percent of black respondents said they hadn't heard enough about Buttigieg to decide if they found him favorable or not. Still, that total puts him around the midpoint for recognizability among all the candidates, meaning things haven't looked this bad for Buttigieg since his followers learned how to dance.

Quinnipiac surveyed 768 likely South Carolina Democratic primary voters via landline and cell phone from Nov. 13–17, with a margin of error of 4.8 percentage points. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:49 a.m.

Virginia lawmakers handed a victory to gun-rights activists Monday, killing a key part of Gov. Ralph Northam's (D) gun-control agenda. The State Senate Judiciary Committee rejected the bill, which would have banned the sale of assault-style weapons and possession of high-capacity magazines, and handed the legislation over to the Virginia Crime Commission to be studied, saying "there were too many questions about the definition of assault weapon," The Washington Post reports.

Surprisingly, four of Northam's fellow Democrats sided with Republicans on the decision. As The Associated Press reports, "Virginia is the current epicenter of the country's heated debate over guns," especially as Democrats last year flipped the General Assembly blue for the first time in more than 20 years. Northam campaigned hard for increased gun control, and this bill was one of eight in a package he rolled out after a shooter killed 12 people in Virginia Beach last year.

Still, opposition to the proposed assault weapon ban has been fierce, with gun-rights activists numbering in the tens of thousands protesting at the state Capitol last month and "Second Amendment sanctuaries" popping up all over the state.

"Moderate Democrats in the state Senate have said for weeks they are uncomfortable passing legislation that would affect so many current gun owners," AP reports. Sen. L. Louise Lucas (D) called the Democrats who sided with Republicans on the bill a "bunch of wimps." Northam's spokeswoman, Alena Yarmosky, said "We will be back next year." Jessica Hullinger

9:35 a.m.

Maybe the flip phone should remain a thing of the past?

Motorola earlier this month resurrected the iconic Razr, selling the new foldable smartphone for $1,500. Despite consumers' nostalgia for the original flip phone of the early 2000s, the new Razr was met with lukewarm reviews. "It has features and functionality that would barely pass as acceptable on a $250 phone," wrote Dieter Bohn at The Verge.

Now, the phone's problems are going from bad to worse. Input's Raymond Wong wrote Monday that the phone's screen was "breaking and peeling at the fold" after just one week of use. "I have no idea how it happened," he wrote, "but I can promise you it wasn't from impact; the phone was closed in my front jeans pocket the entire ride and there's no visible damage anywhere on the device."

Seems like maybe Mark Gurman at Bloomberg was a bit too optimistic when he predicted that "the foldable screen — which Motorola stresses is built to withstand daily use — feels like it might work well for several months, but not for years."

What's causing the phones to break? 9to5Google speculated the problem could be related to cold weather. But whatever the reason, it's hard to disagree with Wong: "A $1,500 phone should not break like this," he said. "Not in a week, not in a month, and not in six months or even a year." Jessica Hullinger

8:28 a.m.

Brad Parscale, President Trump's campaign manager, deleted a tweet Sunday that contained a photo meant to depict a large crowd greeting Air Force One at the Daytona 500 race in Florida after Twitter users pointed out that the photo was from former President George W. Bush's visit in 2004.

".@realDonaldTrump won the #Daytona500 before the race even started," Parscale tweeted alongside the photo. CNN reports it was online for three hours and retweeted nearly 7,000 times before he pulled it and replaced it with a real photo from Trump's visit, showing seemingly smaller crowds:

Trump took a lap around the racetrack in his presidential limousine after Air Force One did the flyby, drawing cheers from fans gathered for the prestigious NASCAR race. Trump kicked off the race with the traditional announcement to drivers of "Gentlemen, start your engines!" Trump's re-election campaign had planned to fly an aerial banner near the speedway and air a TV ad during the Fox broadcast, but the race was postponed until Monday due to rain after the drivers ran just 20 of its 200 laps. Trump spent the weekend at his resort in Palm Beach, now his official primary residence, before going to Daytona. Harold Maass

8:06 a.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg on Sunday responded to conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, who recently said on his show that Americans aren't ready for a gay president. Buttigieg, the first openly gay presidential candidate, said on CNN he would not take "lectures on family values from the likes of Rush Limbaugh."

Limbaugh, who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom during President Trump's State of the Union address, said voters would be turned off by seeing a "37-year-old gay guy kissing his husband on stage next to 'Mr. Man' Donald Trump." Buttigieg said: "Well, I love my husband [Chasten]. I'm faithful to my husband. On stage we usually just go for a hug. But I love him very much, and I'm not going take lectures on family values from the likes of Rush Limbaugh."

CNN points out that a recent Gallup poll found that 78 percent of Americans would vote for a gay candidate if they were "well-qualified" to be president. Harold Maass

7:50 a.m.

Chinese authorities reported early Monday that there were about 100 new deaths from coronavirus, the lowest daily count since Feb. 11. The flu-like virus now has killed more than 1,700 people, Reuters reports. The number of confirmed infections in Hubei province, where the outbreak is centered, rose on Monday after falling for two straight days. Authorities in Hubei imposed tough new restrictions on movement as they continued to step up efforts to contain the spread of the outbreak. The number of new cases outside of Hubei province fell for the 13th consecutive day. "These are all extremely good signs that show our prevention work is very effective," National Health Commission official Guo Yanhong said.

Meanwhile, two planes left Japan early Monday carrying 328 Americans who spent two weeks quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship due to a coronavirus outbreak on board. Fourteen of the American passengers were confirmed to have been infected with the flu-like virus, BBC reports. There were about 400 Americans on the ship, and at least 40 are being treated in Japan after being diagnosed with coronavirus. CNN has video from evacuated Americans:

The U.S. government chartered the aircraft to bring home the U.S. citizens who weren't believed to have been infected. They will remain under a 14-day quarantine at U.S. military bases. Japanese authorities announced Sunday that the number of confirmed infections on the ship had risen by 70 to 355. The ship has the largest cluster of cases outside China, where the coronavirus outbreak is concentrated. Harold Maass

7:37 a.m.

More than 1,100 former Justice Department officials signed a letter released Sunday calling for Attorney General William Barr to resign, Time reports. The open letter came days after Barr's Justice Department overruled prosecutors and reduced a sentencing recommendation for President Trump's longtime confidant Roger Stone, who was convicted of lying to Congress and witness tampering. The DOJ officials who signed the letter said Barr was "doing the president's personal bidding."

"It is unheard of for the department's top leaders to overrule line prosecutors, who are following established policies, in order to give preferential treatment to a close associate of the president, as Attorney General Barr did in the Stone case," wrote the DOJ officials, who served in Democratic and Republican administrations alike. Barr has said Trump did not influence the decision to push for a lighter sentence for Stone. Harold Maass

February 16, 2020

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has faced quite a bit of criticism over his decision to not discipline any players over their role in what was mostly a player-orchestrated, technology-infused sign stealing scheme in 2017, the year they won the World Series. In a wide-ranging interview with ESPN's Karl Ravech about the cheating scandal published Sunday, he explained his reasoning behind that choice.

Manfred said he understands why opposing players and fans would like to see Astros other than former general manager Jeff Lunhow and former manager A.J. Hinch face consequences, but if players were suspended or disciplined in some way MLB would have had to deal with grievances from the Players' Association. Theoretically, in Manfred's view, the MLBPA would have argued Lunhow never fully articulated a 2017 MLB memo on the use of technology during games to the clubhouse.

"So we knew if we had disciplined the players in all likelihood we were going to have grievances and grievances that we were going to lose on the basis that we never properly informed them of the rules," he told Ravech.

Besides, he doesn't think it's fair to say the players were let off the hook because the scrutiny they're facing is harsh enough. "I think if you watch the players, watch their faces when they have to deal with this issue publicly, they have paid a price," he said. "To think they're skipping down the road into spring training, happy, that's just a mischaracterization of where we are." Read more at ESPN and watch Manfred's full 45-minute interview here. Tim O'Donnell

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