October 26, 2020

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany is walking back comments she made in 2015, when she called Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, then the vice president, "a man of the people" who is "funny and likable."

CNN's KFile reports that in August 2015, McEnany appeared on New York's AM970 to discuss what would happen if Donald Trump became the Republican presidential nominee and Biden, who was mulling a run for president, became the candidate for the Democrats.

McEnany said this would be "a problem" for the GOP, because "Joe Biden, one of the things he is remarkable at is really kind of being a man of the people and resonating with middle class voters. ... His gaffes, as much as we make fun of them, to a certain extent they make him look human." With Biden against Trump, "I think the juxtaposition of kind of the man of the people and kind of this tycoon is a problem," she added. Earlier that week, CNN reports, McEnany was on Fox Business Network, and said Biden was "funny and likable and can resonate with the middle class, he really can speak to the average, everyday American, versus Hillary Clinton, who's cold and somber."

After the 2016 election, McEnany became a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee and joined the Trump team, and has blasted Biden at every opportunity, calling him a "radical socialist" and "sleepy." When CNN asked her to comment on her 2015 remarks about Biden, she accused him of being corrupt and called him "an empty vessel for the liberal elites and far left."

McEnany has also changed her tune when it comes to Trump; in 2015, after Trump said Mexico was sending "rapists" to the U.S., she said on CNN "a racist statement is a racist statement. I don't like what Donald Trump has said." In another interview on CNN, she called Trump "a Republican in name only" and said she didn't "want to claim this guy." As Trump's poll numbers began to go up, McEnany had a change of heart, and defended Trump's comments about Mexican immigrants. After becoming press secretary earlier this year, she explained away her earlier criticisms of Trump, saying she "very quickly came around and supported the president." Catherine Garcia

11:54 a.m.

David Chang's final answer just helped him make a bit of TV history.

The celebrity chef won $1 million for charity on Sunday's episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, becoming the first celebrity ever to do so, People reports.

Chang won thanks to his answer to a question about the first president to have electricity in the White House. The answer was Benjamin Harrison, which Chang locked in at the suggestion of ESPN's Mina Kimes, who he used his phone-a-friend lifeline to call. Celebrities on the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire revival hosted by Jimmy Kimmel play for charity, and Chang's winnings are going to the non-profit Southern Smoke Foundation, which according to its website "provides funding to individuals in the food and beverage industry who are in crisis."

"I'm a gambling man, and shame on me if this is wrong, but I'm doing this because having a million dollars right now in this moment is a game-changer for many, many families," Chang said before answering.

Chang told USA Today after the show aired that he's "in shock" and "honestly can't believe it happened," but he explained some of his reasoning for taking the risk and not walking away with $500,000.

"I thought, this is for Southern Smoke, Southern Smoke is for the hospitality industry and we are going through some horrible times," Chang told USA Today. "We are in such a bad shape that half a million dollars isn't enough — and neither is a million dollars — but I wanted to put emphasis on it and raise awareness of the problem, so it was worth the chance." Brendan Morrow

11:21 a.m.

Georgia's Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has been a frequent target of President Trump and his allies over the last few weeks. He's been accused — without evidence — of overseeing an electoral process that allowed for a significant amount of voter fraud, which his critics claim led to President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the traditionally red state. Raffensperger hasn't shied away from firing back, but in his latest comments Monday he appeared to thread the needle when it comes to Trump himself.

Raffensperger said unspecified "dishonest actors" are "exploiting the emotions of Trump supporters with fantastic claims, half truths, and misinformation," and he painted the president as a victim, as well.

It's understandable why Raffensperger may be seeking to avoid direct conflict with Trump, but not everyone is buying the way he framed the president's role in the situation. Tim O'Donnell

10:28 a.m.

The Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments Monday in President Trump's attempt to exclude undocumented immigrants from counting in the 2020 census. The decision could affect congressional representation and federal funding, and it's far from the only way Trump's immigration policies could resonate for decades to come.

From implementing his Muslim ban in the early days of his presidency to recent changes to the U.S. citizenship test, much of Trump's term has centered around restricting both legal and illegal immigration. President-elect Joe Biden's election win hasn't slowed that pursuit. In Trump's last few weeks in office, he has reportedly pivoted to targeting birthright citizenship again. Trump's team has also used the pandemic to restrict the hiring of foreign workers and rapidly deport migrants and children who cross the southern border, and is rushing to add to his border wall. And if the Supreme Court — stacked with six conservatives — decides in Trump's favor, he could succeed in curbing representation and funding in left-leaning cities.

Biden has pledged to reverse all of Trump's restrictive immigration policies, some in the first days of his presidency. But thanks to "the genius of Stephen Miller," the architect of Trump's harsh immigration policies, that may be impossible, a source familiar with the Biden transition tells CNN. The past four years of slashing immigration have weakened the nation's immigration infrastructure; For example, Trump's historic low refugee caps have weaned staff to the point that it could be impossible to quickly increase refugee admissions, as Biden has proposed. Read more about Trump's lasting immigration legacy at CNN. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:03 a.m.

Merriam-Webster has selected the word of the year for 2020, and it's the obvious choice.

The company on Monday picked "pandemic" as its 2020 word of the year, saying the term received a massive 115,806 percent spike in searches in March compared to a year earlier, The Associated Press reports. That spike came on the day the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, Merriam-Webster said, though smaller spikes had occurred earlier in the year.

"Sometimes a single word defines an era, and it's fitting that in this exceptional — and exceptionally difficult — year, a single word came immediately to the fore as we examined the data that determines what our word of the year will be," Merriam-Webster said.

Among the numerous runners up were terms related to the COVID-19 pandemic like "coronavirus," "quarantine," and "asymptomatic." But another runner up was "defund," which Merriam-Webster said saw a more than 6,000 percent increase in lookups in 2020 amid calls to "defund the police."

The word "mamba" also saw a spike in searchers following the death of Kobe Bryant, who was nicknamed "Black Mamba," and "malarkey," a word used frequently by President-elect Joe Biden, saw an uptick in searches in 2020 as well. The other runners up were "kraken," "antebellum," "schadenfreude," "irregardless," and "icon."

Meanwhile, Dictionary.com also picked "pandemic" as its word of the year, with senior research editor John Kelly telling The Associated Press, "It seems maybe a little bit obvious, and that's fair to say, but think about life before the pandemic. Things like pandemic fashion would have made no sense. The pandemic as an event created a new language for a new normal." Brendan Morrow

10:02 a.m.

In Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine trial, all but 11 of the 196 participants who contracted the virus were in the placebo group, good for a 94 percent efficacy rate. But perhaps even more crucially, none of the people who received the vaccine developed a severe infection, the company said. There were 30 severe cases in the trial — including one death — but they all occurred in the placebo group.

Experts have previously highlighted the importance of separating out worst the cases. Back in September, Drs. Peter Doshi and Eric Topol, in an op-ed for The New York Times, expressed concern that companies developing vaccines, including Moderna and Pfizer, which are on track to receive emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration in the coming weeks, wouldn't specify the severity of the infections in their trial. But Moderna did just that Monday (Pfizer has also provided data on the matter), and the news is encouraging. Tim O'Donnell

8:33 a.m.

Back in March and April, when the novel coronavirus was still new and mask-wearing and social distancing foreign, the U.S. rolled out a bunch of ads explaining best COVID-19 practices for keep yourself and others safe. Some of them, like Paul Rudd's PSA for New York and Lego's Batman and Star Wars ads were amusing and informative. Others haven't aged so well.

The U.S. is now setting new records for COVID-19, including topping 200,000 new infections on Friday alone, and top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Sunday about a possible "surge upon a surge" in the weeks after Thanksgiving. A vaccine is coming, he added, and "if we can hang together as a country and do these kinds of things to blunt these surges until we get a substantial proportion of the population vaccinated, we can get through this."

The U.S. isn't going through this alone, of course, and some foreign governments, companies, and artists have tried different ways of communicating the severity of the virus and the need to stop the spread of the coronavirus. As COVID fatigue crashes into the holidays, here are six creative ways other countries have tried to keep up the fight.

1. Germany created an instant classic in November that lightly tugged at the patriotic impulse while highlighting both the stakes and the relatively low cost of serving the greater good.

2. Turkey's Süleyman Hacıcaferoğlu took some animated matchsticks created in the spring by Spanish artists Juan Declan and Valentina Izaguirre, threw on the Mission: Impossible theme song, and created an arresting visual representation of how the virus spreads — and stops.

3. South Africa drew on the ick factor to encourage mask wearing.

4. Vietnam's health department produced an animated ad with a "Jealous Coronavirus" song that is so catchy, it became a bona fide hit in the country.

5. Singapore created its own pop hit, "Singapore Be Steady," with actor Gurmit Singh in character as Phua Chu Kang.

6. In Croatia, Karlovacko beer got its social distancing message across in a language that is probably universal: the disapproving look of a potential parent-in-law. Watch below. Peter Weber

8:28 a.m.

Moderna has announced plans to seek emergency authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine after data showed it to be 94.1 percent effective.

The company said it will apply for emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for its COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. This announcement comes after Moderna earlier this month revealed that preliminary phase-three trial data showed its vaccine candidate was almost 95 percent effective.

On Monday, Moderna said an analysis of 196 cases "confirms the high efficacy observed at the first interim analysis," and additionally, data also showed the vaccine was 100 percent effective at preventing severe COVID-19 cases.

Moderna is the second company to seek emergency authorization for a vaccine against COVID-19. Pfizer previously announced it would also be submitting a request for FDA emergency authorization for its vaccine candidate, which data showed was about 95 percent effective.

When COVID-19 vaccines begin to roll out, those at the highest risk are expected to receive them first. Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel told The New York Times that should the company's vaccine receive emergency approval, the first doses could potentially be given by Dec. 21, and the company expects to produce 20 million doses in the United States by the end of the year. Brendan Morrow

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