On Politics: Scrambling to Michigan

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  • Cory Booker became the latest former presidential candidate to endorse Joe Biden, and our colleague Nick Corasaniti has the scoop.

  • Booker is planning to appear alongside Kamala Harris, who endorsed Biden on Sunday. Taking place ahead of the high-stakes Michigan primary, that event seems destined to take on a distinctly Klobuchar-and-Buttigieg-before-Super Tuesday feel.

  • Bernie Sanders got his own big endorsement from a black former presidential candidate — just not one from this election cycle. Jesse Jackson, whose own campaign in 1988 Sanders endorsed as mayor of Burlington, Vt., traveled to Grand Rapids, Mich., to endorse Sanders on Sunday. “I stand with Bernie Sanders today because he stood with me,” Jackson said to cheers. “I stand with him because he’s never lost his taste for justice for the people. I stand with him because he stands with you.” Revving up a crowd whose candidate’s chances have dimmed significantly in the past 10 days, Jackson led people in his trademark chant: “Keep hope alive!”

  • Sanders will need a lot more than hope if he is going to win Michigan, the big prize tomorrow, when nominating contests will be held in six states. On Super Tuesday, he failed to rack up enough support among liberals and white working-class voters to overcome his deep deficit among black voters in many states. And as Jonathan Martin and Astead W. Herndon point out in a new article, the 2018 Michigan governor’s race — in which a left-wing challenger was trounced by the moderate candidate, Gretchen Whitmer — offers yet more cause for concern for Sanders’s campaign.

  • Our eyes will be peeled today for the release of a Monmouth University poll of Michigan, expected by this afternoon.

  • As Democrats start to ponder who might be chosen as a vice-presidential nominee, with several of the former female presidential candidates frequently floated, the issue of gender remains front and center. In a story published this morning, Lisa Lerer and Reid J. Epstein explore the bitter aftertaste that is setting in for many Democratic women after the race narrowed to a battle between two white men.

  • “There must be a woman on this ticket,” Cecile Richards, a longtime abortion-rights activist and founder of the women’s organization Supermajority, told Reid and Lisa. “What is really important to see is representation, a commitment to the issues that women care about and a commitment to do something about it.”

  • During his remarks at the Sanders rally, Jackson made a pointed call to increase representation of black women in politics. “There is a great concern today about the impact of African-American women,” he said. “There should be one on the Supreme Court. There’s a real consideration,” he added, for a black woman “to be on the ticket of the next nominee of our party. Inclusion leads to growth, and with growth everybody wins.”

  • That is the central theme of a four-part documentary series on Hillary Clinton that Hulu released on Friday. The project began simply as an attempt to capture Clinton’s 2016 campaign on film, but it ended up as a four-hour documentary that tells the story of her life, and seeks to examine bigger questions about the treatment of female leaders in the public sphere.

  • In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria over the weekend to promote the series, Clinton talked about the role of implicit bias in weakening support for female politicians. “We carry with us — it’s kind of deep in the DNA — what we expect women to be,” she said. “And we’re OK with kind of opening the doors and allowing our daughters, our granddaughters, you know, to get great educations and compete for great jobs. But there still is something inside that — when a woman says, ‘Wait a minute, I’d like to lead, I’d like to be in charge, I’d like to be your president or your chief executive,’ or whatever it might be — little alarm bells, little unconscious alarm bells, start to ring.”

  • If Biden does win the Democratic nomination, he can expect a nonstop fusillade of attacks from President Trump’s allies on Fox News. And in recent days he’s gotten a preview of what that might be like from Sean Hannity, a leading Fox host and a confidante of Trump. Hannity has repeatedly sought to cast doubt on whether Biden has the mental faculties to successfully serve as president.

  • Hannity wondered aloud on Thursday whether “the 77-year-old Biden has the stamina, the strength, the mental acumen and focus required.” And Hannity isn’t the only host to harp on it — to the point that Howard Kurtz, another host, took a moment on the air to call out two colleagues for suggesting that Biden might be “senile or getting there.” Hannity hit right back via Twitter: “Howie, being the President of the United States of America is the Hardest job in the world. Whether any candidate has the physical strength, the stamina, the focus and mental toughness needed to do this job is critical.”

Sanders and Jackson — and several large flags — appeared together on Sunday in Grand Rapids, Mich.

More than 500 cases of the coronavirus have now been reported inside the United States. Some schools are temporarily closing. People across the country are canceling travel plans and events.

Trump now has to contend with the possibility ahead of his re-election fight in November that the pandemic could threaten a cornerstone of his public image: the thriving economy.

Trump signed an $8.3 billion emergency package on Friday, with funds for the health secretary to disperse and for state and local governments to use. But that came only after Trump’s initial request — for just $1.25 billion in new funding — drew heavy criticism, including from some congressional Republicans. At that time, Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, called Trump’s request “long overdue and completely inadequate.”

Meanwhile, stocks and oil prices have been falling.

Trump has sought to assuage the public’s fears about the virus while reassuring people that he has it under control. But as our chief White House correspondent, Peter Baker, points out in a new analysis, the coronavirus has the potential to shed a negative light on some of Trump’s budget cuts within the White House.

“Who would have thought we would even be having the subject?” Trump said during a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday. But in fact, when he shut down the office responsible for preparing for pandemics in 2018, an official was clear about the threat.

“The threat of pandemic flu is the No. 1 health security concern,” the official said then. “Are we ready to respond? I fear the answer is no.”

If the virus is not contained, and it does cause an economic downturn, Trump may have a hard time escaping some culpability for the way he sought to confront it.

The last major presidential candidate who still hasn’t endorsed is, of course, Elizabeth Warren. And so far she’s offered no signs on where she could come down.

But that’s not to say she has disappeared from the public eye.

Warren made a surprise cameo on “Saturday Night Live” this weekend, answering questions from Kate McKinnon, who played Laura Ingraham — and then, in a miraculously quick costume change, showed up next to Warren dressed as her, in a blue suit jacket with a wig of Warren’s neatly cut hair.

“I wanted to put on my favorite outfit to thank you for all that you’ve done in your lifetime,” McKinnon said, adopting a Southern accent and bouncing lightly on her feet with Warren-like vim.

“I’m not dead,” Warren shot back. “I’m just in the Senate.”

Two days earlier, she had been on MSNBC for a more serious conversation. The evening after she exited the race, Rachel Maddow spoke to Warren about what she had learned throughout the campaign, how she decided to end it, sexism in politics (“we can’t lose hope over this”) and, of course, the question of whom she would endorse.

Many on the left have questioned why she would hold out on endorsing Sanders, whose policies generally align with hers. In her interview with Maddow, which aired on Thursday, Warren outlined at least one area in which she and Sanders still have not found accord: instances of abusive language used by his online supporters.

“We’ve talked about it, but I think it’s a real problem,” she told Maddow, referring to conversations she had had with Sanders. “I think we have to have some accountability around that.”

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