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Paul Steinhauser

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A new poll released hours before the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives was poised to impeach President Trump indicates that by a slight 51-45 percent majority, Americans oppose removing the president from office.

The survey – released Wednesday morning by Gallup – also points to a drop in support for impeachment from October, when the inquiry into Trump got underway. At that time, according to Gallup, Americans supported impeachment by a 52-46 margin. And the poll, which was conducted Dec. 2-15, indicates that the Republican incumbent’s approval rating has edged up the past two months – from 39 percent in October to 45 percent now – as the House held blockbuster public hearings.

The Gallup survey is one of seven live telephone operator national polls on impeachment that were conducted this month and released starting on Sunday. Some of the surveys indicate a slight deterioration in support for impeachment since October, with the others showing that support and opposition have remained mostly static.

The president, though, has played up the polls heavily, tweeting Friday that “Poll numbers have gone through the roof in favor of No Impeachment.”

While all the surveys indicate a deep partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans over impeachment, most of the polls suggest that a majority of independent voters oppose booting Trump from the White House.

Surveys from Quinnipiac University, Gallup, PBS/NPR/Marist, and USA Today/Suffolk University all point to a majority of independents opposed to impeaching and removing the president from office. Polls from Fox News and CNN indicate that independents are evenly divided.

And the polls also spotlight a gender divide – with majorities of men opposing and women supporting – on impeaching and removing Trump from the White House.

The surveys also show an uptick in the president’s approval rating from October to December.

The president faces two articles of impeachment – that he abused the powers of his office and that he obstructed Congress as it investigated him. Impeachment by the Democratic majority in the House would trigger a Senate trial, which would likely be held in January. The GOP-controlled Senate is expected to acquit Trump.

The president’s facing impeachment over his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which he urged Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter over their dealings in the eastern European country. Biden is one of the top Democratic 2020 presidential contenders hoping to challenge Trump in next year’s election. Fueled by whistleblower complaints, a transcript of the call released by the White House, and testimony by witnesses in the inquiry, Democrats say that the president was asking a foreign country to potentially interfere in a U.S. election.

Adding to the controversy was the fact that before that phone call, millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine was put on hold. Despite allegations that the president was using that money as leverage, Trump has repeatedly insisted that he did nothing wrong. He’s said there was no “quid pro quo” and has on numerous occasions described his conversation with the Ukrainian leader as “perfect.”

On Monday morning, the president took to Twitter to call the Democrats’ impeachment push the “greatest con job in the history of American politics!”

Author: Paul Steinhauser

Source: Fox News: Trump approval rises, support for impeachment drops in new poll

Former Vice President Joe Biden takes aim at President Trump in the first television commercial of his 2020 White House bid.

Biden, the front-runner right now in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, pledges to “restore the soul of the nation battered by an erratic, vicious, bullying president” in the 60-second TV spot that his campaign says starts running Tuesday in Iowa, the state that votes first in the presidential caucus and primary calendar.

Emphasizing the importance of the election, the announcer says, “we know in our bones this election is different. The stakes are higher. The threat more serious.

“We have to beat Donald Trump and all the polls agree Joe Biden is the strongest Democrat to do the job. No one is more qualified. For eight years President Obama and Vice President Biden were an administration America could be proud of,” the announcer says.

Biden’s campaign says it’s spending in the high six figures to air the commercial in the Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Quad Cities, and Sioux City TV markets in Iowa. And they add it’s part of a broader broadcast and digital media campaign in the coming weeks.

Biden’s not the first top-tier candidate to go up on the airwaves with TV commercials. Sen. Kamala Harris of California aired ads in Iowa earlier this month.

Billionaire environmental and progressive activist Tom Steyer – who declared his candidacy in early July – spent seven figures to run commercials in Iowa and New Hampshire as well as on national cable TV at the end of last month.

Author: Paul Steinhauser

Source: Fox News: Biden slams Trump as ‘erratic, vicious, bullying’ in first 2020 TV ad

The horrific mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton that left 31 people dead and dozens more injured have thrust the issue of gun violence into the center of the 2020 presidential campaign — with calls growing louder in the Democratic field for the return of an assault-weapons ban.

Many in the record-setting field of two-dozen Democratic White House hopefuls already supported the ban, but the weekend tragedies have emboldened those calls as candidates highlight and in some cases build upon their gun control platforms.

Primary front-runner Joe Biden went so far Monday as to say he’s coming for those guns.

The former vice president, in a CNN interview, said that a Biden administration would push for a “national buyback program” to get such firearms “off the street.”

Asked what he’d say to gun owners worried that Biden would be coming for their guns, he quickly answered: “Bingo! You’re right, if you have an assault weapon.”

“The fact of the matter is [assault weapons] should be illegal. Period,” Biden said. “The Second Amendment doesn’t say you can’t restrict the kinds of weapons people can own. You can’t buy a bazooka. You can’t have a flame-thrower.”

Biden has long supported bans on assault weapons and firearms with high-capacity magazines, as well as universal background checks for gun purchases. As a senator from Delaware, Biden had a large role in crafting the 1994 assault-weapons ban.

The bill was quickly signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton after narrowly passing the Senate in a 52-48 vote. The law – which prohibited civilian use of certain semi-automatic firearms defined as assault weapons as well as certain large-capacity ammunition magazines – expired in 2004. Attempts to reauthorize the ban over the past 15 years have been unsuccessful.

Biden’s far from the only presidential candidate to renew the push for an assault-weapons ban in the wake of the weekend massacres.

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Tuesday announced “an action plan to combat the threat of white nationalist terrorism, abetted by weak gun laws and the gun lobby.”

The alleged gunman in the El Paso shooting — a 21-year-old white supremacist — killed at least 22 people.

As part of his wide-ranging plan, Buttigieg is calling for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Buttigieg – a Naval Reserve veteran who served in the Afghanistan war – emphasized that “weapons like the one I carried in Afghanistan have no place on our streets or in our schools.”

“The same is true for high-capacity magazines, some of which can hold up to 100 rounds of ammunition and significantly increase a shooter’s ability to injure and kill large numbers of people quickly without needing to reload,” he added.

Even before the weekend’s shootings, curbing gun violence was a central tenet in New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s campaign — he’s calling for the federal licensing of all gun owners – and Sen. Kamala Harris of California repeatedly vowed if elected to take action on the issue in the first 100 days of her administration.

And gun violence’s a centerpiece to the White House bid by former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas, who suspended his campaign to return to his hometown of El Paso.

In this summer’s primary debates, the candidates have highlighted a list of proposals they’ve pledged to enact – from banning assault weapons and restrictions on magazine capacities to universal background checks and laws to prevent those with a history of domestic violence or mental illness from purchasing weapons.

But it remains unclear what measures the current Congress might be willing to consider. Some lawmakers, on both sides of the aisle, have backed calls for “red-flag laws” to take firearms from those deemed a risk to public safety, after President Trump endorsed the measures on Monday.

But Trump focused largely on mental health, while saying: “Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.”

An assault-weapons ban is a far more sweeping measure that, at this stage, has little support from Republican lawmakers.

The dialogue in the 2020 race comes as amid a spate of mass shootings already this year. The escalating debate among the candidates marks the first time in almost a generation that Democratic presidential candidates are heavily emphasizing gun violence on the campaign trail.

Then-Democratic Vice President Al Gore and Republican Gov. George W. Bush battled over the issue in the 2000 election, one year after the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. The two candidates clashed, among other things, over moves to prevent cities from suing gun manufacturers.

But four years later, Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts didn’t make gun control a major focus of his campaign. Neither did President Barack Obama in his 2008 election and 2012 re-election. And while Hillary Clinton supported tightening gun laws, she didn’t spotlight her stance as the Democrats 2016 presidential nominee.

But after dozens of high-profile incidents in recent years – from the Orlando, Florida nightclub mass shooting in 2016 where 49 were killed, to the Las Vegas concert massacre that left 58 dead and the Parkland mass shooting where 17 students and faculty were killed – tackling gun violence has become a top policy for Democratic congressional and presidential candidates.

Gun violence was the second most pressing issue facing the country, according to a Fox News poll conducted in May. Seventy-one percent of registered voters said gun violence is a major problem that needed attention from the government, trailing only the opioid addiction epidemic.

Author: Paul Steinhauser

Source: Fox News: Biden says he’s coming for assault weapons, as 2020 Dems urge new ban in wake of shootings

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is pledging that if elected to the White House, she’ll spend $10 trillion over the next 10 years in both taxpayer dollars and private funding to tackle climate change and implement the goals of the ‘Green New Deal.’

“We have seen catastrophic flooding across the Midwest, damaging wildfires in California, and hurricanes ravage communities in the South and Puerto Rico. Many people have lost their homes and loved ones because we’ve failed to act on climate change,” the senator from New York said in a Medium post Thursday morning.

“My plan lays out immediate and bold action to protect our communities and save our planet,” Gillibrand touted. “Not only would I enact the Green New Deal and protect clean air and clean water, but I will reinvest in the communities that have been most impacted by climate change and hold polluters accountable for the damage they’ve caused the American people.”

As part of her proposal, Gillibrand vows to bring the nation to net-zero carbon and greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050.

To reach that goal, the senator calls for “100% clean, renewable, and zero-carbon electricity in a decade.”

And she would push for new standards for newly manufactured vehicles so as many as possible are zero-emission. Gillibrand also said she’d issue an executive order to end all new fossil fuel leases on public lands or off-short on the nation’s outer continental shelf.

Her plan also includes putting a price on carbon – starting at $52 per metric ton – to steer companies away from fossil fuels and towards clean and renewable energy alternatives, ending federal subsidies and tax subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, and spending $100 billion to help rural communities transition to clean energy

Gillibrand argued that her price on carbon will help pay for her plan.

“The revenue generated from this carbon tax, estimated at more than $200 billion annually, will then go directly back into our country’s transition to renewable energy,” she explained.

The candidate also pledged that on day one of a Gillibrand administration, she’d reverse Republican President Trump’s move to take the U.S out of the Paris climate agreement, and she vowed to strengthen Clean Air Act regulations and reverse the Trump administration’s moves on the Clean Water Act.

The senator – who’s struggled to resonate in the 2020 Democratic nomination polls – is the latest of a handful of 2020 White House hopefuls to release a comprehensive climate change action plan. Surveys indicate that climate change is one of the most urgent issues among Democratic presidential primary voters.

Author: Paul Steinhauser

Source: Fox News: Gillibrand unveils $10 trillion plan to combat climate change

Joe Biden enters 2020 presidential race

Former Vice President Joe Biden announces 2020 presidential bid.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, in an online video Thursday, officially declared his candidacy for president in 2020, capping off weeks of intrigue and media speculation.

He enters a crowded field of Democratic contenders aiming to unseat President Trump — nearly 32 years after he announced his first campaign for president. The campaign is Biden’s third for the White House, having also unsuccessfully run in 1988 and 2008.

“The core values of this nation, our standing in the world, our very democracy, everything that has made America — America — is at stake. That’s why today I’m announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,” Biden tweeted early Thursday.

With the announcement, which followed months of deliberations, Biden becomes a front-runner in an incredibly crowded field of Democratic presidential contenders all vying to face off next year against Trump.

The president welcomed Biden into the race, warning him that the race will be “nasty.”

“Welcome to the race Sleepy Joe,” Trump tweeted. “I only hope you have the intelligence, long in doubt, to wage a successful primary campaign. It will be nasty – you will be dealing with people who truly have some very sick & demented ideas. But if you make it, I will see you at the Starting Gate!”

Biden, along with independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont — who is making his second straight White House run — have consistently topped the polls in the race for the Democratic nomination.

In the Thursday’s video, the former vice president pointed to the violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia in August of 2017 at a large white nationalist rally, Biden took aim at Trump’s response that “there were some very fine people on both sides.”

“With those words, the president of the United assigned a moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it,” Biden charged. “And in that moment, I new the threat to this nation was unlike any I had seen in my lifetime. I wrote at the time that we’re in the battle for the soul of this nation. Well, that’s even more true today. We are in the battle for the soul of this nation.”

Biden argued that “if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation, who we are, and I cannot stand by and watch that happen.”

Fox News reported last week that the theme of the announcement would be ‘the battle for the soul of America.’

Biden is expected to follow up the announcement with his first high-dollar fundraiser in the Philadelphia home of Comcast executive David Cohen Thursday evening and appear at a local union hall in Pittsburgh on Monday.

The former Delaware senator has for weeks been rallying potential donors in an effort to gain momentum, noting that Sanders and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas managed to raise $6 million within 24 hours of launching their candidacy.

The Biden campaign said that the former vice president will lay out his “vision for rebuilding America’s middle class” at the Pittsburgh event. Then he’s scheduled to travel to the four states that vote first in the primary and caucus nominating calendar. They add that Biden will hold a rally in Philadelphia on May 18, likely at the city’s Museum of Art – known nationally for the scene of the fictional Rocky Balboa’s training on the museum’s steps in the movie “Rocky.”

The start and finish of his initial campaign swing in Pennsylvania is no surprise. The state – long a crucial battleground in presidential elections – was one of the key states Trump flipped in the 2016 election to help him capture the White House.

And while Biden has long lived in Delaware and represented that state for nearly four decades in the Senate, he was born and spent his early years in Scranton, Pennsylvania and the Keystone State has always remained special to him.

Moments after his announcement, Biden was endorsed by Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.

Biden’s long awaited and much anticipated presidential campaign launch comes after facing allegations in recent weeks from women that he had made them feel uncomfortable in the past with what was described as inappropriate touching. It instantly become a top story online and on the cable news networks, forcing the former vice president to play defense in the #MeToo era and defend his decades old brand of close up and personal politics

“Social norms are changing. I understand that, and I’ve heard what these women are saying,” Biden explained in a video released during the height of the furor, which threatened his looming candidacy. “Politics to me has always been about making connections, but I will be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future. That’s my responsibility and I will meet it.”

While Biden didn’t apologize to those who raised the allegations, he did say that “I’m sorry I didn’t understand more. I’m not sorry for any of my intentions. I’m not sorry for anything I’ve ever done. I’ve never been disrespectful intentionally to a man or a woman.”

And referring to well-publicized past episodes of getting too close for comfort with fellow politicians, their family members and others, the former vice president explained that “it is incumbent on me and everybody else to make sure that if you embrace someone, if you touch someone, it’s with their consent, regardless of your intentions.”

While the controversy was dominating headlines, Biden’s inner circle was continuing to reach out to Democratic operatives as they quietly mapped out a national campaign structure as well as staff in the early voting primary and caucus states. And in the days leading up to the launch, Biden picked up the pace on reaching out to top donors and supporters, with the acknowledgment that he’ll be judged by how much he fundraising dollars he hauls in in the first 24 hours after declaring his candidacy.

Biden has long had his eyes on his presidency: In June of 1987, Biden first launched a bid for the 1988 Democratic nomination.The then-senator from Delaware was considered one of the stronger candidates in the emerging Democratic field. But three months into his campaign, he faced newspaper headlines that he had plagiarized a speech by British politician Neil Kinnock. The incident sparked a controversy, knocking Biden out of the race well before the start of the primaries and caucuses.

Biden ran a second time for the Democratic nomination in the 2008 cycle, declaring his candidacy in January of 2007. Despite his long record, his campaign never caught lightning in a bottle.

There were also some well-publicized gaffes, including his description of then-Sen. Barack Obama.

“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” Biden said at the time. “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.” The comments quickly spelled trouble for Biden, forcing him to apologize.

Biden’s bid was also overshadowed by Obama and then-Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, who ended up battling each other in an historic and marathon quest for the nomination. Biden dropped out of the race after coming in fifth in the Iowa caucus, grabbing less than one percent of the vote.

But seven months later, Obama selected Biden as his running mate. The pair won the November 2008 election, and were re-elected in 2012.

Biden seriously considered another run for the White House in 2016, but grappling with the death of his eldest son Beau, the Vice President announced in October of 2015 that he would not launch a campaign.

Speaking from the podium at the Rose Garden, Biden explained that he had been emotionally drained by the death of his son and stressed that “nobody has a right … to seek that office unless they’re willing to give it 110 percent of who they are.”

But the decision not to run haunted him. He noted in early 2016 that he regretted not running “every day.”

Trump’s upset victory over Clinton in the 2016 presidential election changed the dynamic for Biden. He soon became a vocal critic of the Republican in the White House, and speculation sprang up that Biden would consider a final presidential bid in 2020. Trips to New Hampshire in 2017 and to Iowa, South Carolina and Iowa in 2018 fueled the flames.

Biden dropped a major hint of his pending 2020 campaign in early March. After walking to the podium at the at the annual convention of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) to chants of “run Joe, run,” by the union crowd, Biden said “I appreciate the energy you showed when I got up here. Save it a little longer. I may need it in a few weeks.”

The comments brought a standing ovation from the mostly blue collar audience that Biden feels he can count on as he runs for president.

In early April, Biden told reporters “I am very close to making a decision to stand before you all relatively soon.” Asked why the hold-up, Biden quickly answered, “The hold-up is to put everything together.”

At the time, Biden also pushed back against the perception that he’s a moderate in a party that’s increasingly moving to the left. He defended himself, saying he’ll stack his record against “anybody who has run or who is running now or who will run.”

And highlighting his early public push for same-sex marriage during the Obama administration, he stressed “I’m not sure when everybody else came out and said they’re for gay marriage.”

Biden was born on November 20, 1942, and lived in Scranton, Pennsylvania for ten years until moving with his family to Delaware. He became an attorney in 1969 and was elected to the New Castle City Council in 1970. He won what was out the outset a long-shot election to the Senate two years later, becoming the sixth-youngest senator in the nation’s history. He was re-elected six times before resigning in 2009 to take on the duties as vice president.

During his nearly four decades in the Senate, he was a longtime member and former chair of the Foreign Relations Committee. He also served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

But Biden’s role as Judiciary Committee chairman in 1991 during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas is arguably more controversial today than it was at the time nearly three decades ago.

In March he lamented the impact of “white man’s culture” and bemoaned his own role in the hearings that undermined witness Anita Hill’s credibility. Biden said that Hill, who is black, should not have been forced to face a panel of “a bunch of white guys” about her sexual harassment allegations against Thomas, who was nominated by President George H.W. Bush.

“To this day I regret I couldn’t come up with a way to give her the kind of hearing she deserved,” he said. “I wish I could have done something.”

But his comments elicited derision by many women, who argued that as the chairman of the committee, he had the power to do something.

Biden married his wife Neilia in 1966. In 1972, soon after his election to the Senate, his wife and their daughter Naomi were killed in an automobile accident. Sons Beau and Hunter Biden survived. He married his second and current wife Jill five years later.

Fox News’ Bradford Betz contributed to this report.

Author: Paul Steinhauser

Source: Foxnews: Joe Biden officially launches 2020 presidential bid

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