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Wednesday, November 25, 2020
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Wednesday, November 27, 2019 9:43 AM

INDIANAPOLIS – The spook’s eyes at the Londonskaya Hotel bar burned holes in me. Every time I glanced in his direction, they were trained on me. I had entered Odessa, Ukraine as part of the last hurrah of Sen. Richard Lugar’s old Republican internationalist order in this pre-partitioned nation. 

It was 2007. Vladimir Putin held only shadow power in the old Soviet remnants. His fractured standing belied a reeling nation, the former Soviet Union, in steep demographic decline. High rates of alcoholism, suicide and plunging birth rates defined this former empire. Donald Trump was a gadfly, wannabe presidential aspirant who owned a couple of Gary riverboat casinos and a New York real estate empire.

It would have been impossible to foresee how this churn of events would play out a dozen years later in Moscow, Kiev, Washington and even Indianapolis. The old Republican internationalist order that once thrived in Indiana has ended, begging the question in the emergent era of the Trump cult of personality, so what if it has?

The Indiana aspect of this story can be told through the hyper-supplicant Pences, with the vice president accepting full ownership of that cult; and Indiana’s two Republican senators, Mike Braun, who owes his station to Trump, and Todd Young, a former Lugar staffer who, had he taken a different career path, might have found himself briefing the Senate in a manner similar to Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. Last week Vindman, former Ukrainian ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, and State Department Ukrainian expert Dr. Fiona Hill testified before Congress of a disinformation campaign echoing Putin’s Kremlin that it was the Ukrainians, not the Russians, who meddled in the 2016 US elections. The Republican senators received a briefing on the Ukrainian fiction as multiple sources discredited the story. In the wake of the sensational impeachment testimony which appears not to have swayed public opinion, the question for Hoosier voters remains, does it matter? Do people care? I don’t think they do. Hoosier voters appear to be giving President Trump the benefit of the doubt, preferring to decide his future at the ballot box next year. Two recent polls in Indiana, the Old National/Ball State and Bowen Center poll, put Trump’s approval at 52%, while a Morning Consult poll had Trump’s Indiana approval at 50%.

  • INDIANAPOLIS – When new Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston walked out of the Indiana House of Representatives on March 11 with the COVID-19 pandemic just beginning to get a death grip on his state, he recalled, “I remember leaving this chamber believing something historic could be taking shape.” On Nov. 15, the White House coronavirus task force posted this warning as the U.S. death toll hit 250,000 and Indiana closed in on 5,000: "There is now aggressive, unrelenting, expanding broad community spread across the country, reaching most counties, without evidence of improvement but rather, further deterioration. Current mitigation efforts are inadequate and must be increased to flatten the curve to sustain the health system for both COVID and non-COVID emergencies."  This warning came as hospitals are being swamped and front line medical workers are disheartened, drained and weary, while folks ranging from nurses to the governor pleaded with people to wear masks. “I want to thank all of the incredible health care professionals, who continue on the front lines of this pandemic,” Huston said. ”Doctors, nurses, and so many others in hospitals and health care facilities across the state; they have fought and are fighting so hard for each of us.“

  • INDIANAPOLIS – On Sunday, the news we had waited almost 10 months to hear came true: Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech said their coronavirus vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla hailed the development as a “great day for science and humanity.” But after a weekend when the Indiana State Department of Health reported almost 10,000 new COVID infections and nearly 100 deaths, Brian Tabor sounded the alarms, stating the obvious as Hoosiers moved from elections to the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season. “All Hoosiers should be alarmed at the COVID-19 trends we are seeing across the state,” said Tabor, president of the Indiana Hospital Association. “In recent weeks, new cases have reached the highest level to date and hospitalizations have increased by 143% since October 1. Many hospitals are reporting staff shortages as the pandemic takes its toll — Hoosier nurses, doctors, and other front-line hospital staff have been working non-stop since the early spring. “Please give these courageous health care heroes some much-needed relief by wearing a face covering, practicing social distancing, washing your hands, and staying home when you are sick. We need everyone to take these steps to relieve the enormous strain on the system at this critical time,” Tabor concluded. By Thursday, Indiana logged 6,654 cases in one day, and 51 deaths, bringing the death toll to 4,563 since March.
  • INDIANAPOLIS  – Gov. Eric Holcomb may equaled a modern plurality record with his 55.5-32% win over Democrat Woody Myers and Libertarian Donald Rainwater, who notched 11.5% (with 97% of precincts counted). In 1992, Democrat Gov. Evan Bayh defeated Attorney General Linley Pearson by a 25.1% margin, though Holcomb’s 1.688 million votes bests Bayh’s 1.382 million votes. While Bayh had to deal with a split 50/50 House and a Republican Senate following his landslide, Gov. Holcomb enters his second term with super majorities in the House and Senate, the GOP holding every Statehouse constitutional office, a 9-2 advantage in the congressional delegation, 71 out of 115 mayors, and north of 80% of county courthouse offices and above 90% of county commissioners. “I couldn’t be more grateful that our neighbors, families, friends, and Hoosiers from all across Indiana put their trust in us to lead our great state for another four years,” Holcomb said a couple of hours after he was declared the winner just after 7 p.m. Tuesday. “There’s no beating around the bush; COVID-19 is an unprecedented challenge that slowed us down. But Hoosiers are the most resilient people in the world. We’re getting back on track, and our victory today is the first step toward getting our state back to setting records.” “We’ve reached the apex, setting a high water mark,” said Indiana Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer, who served as Holcomb’s campaign manager. “When you have 70 state representatives, 71 mayors, I don’t know where you go from here.”
  • INDIANAPOLIS – Our election that culminates on Nov. 3 is about two things: A referendum on President Trump, and the coronavirus pandemic. Here in Indiana, the other executive seeking reelection is Gov. Eric Holcomb, who is a clear favorite. Trump is on thin, thin ice and poised to join Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush in the defeat column. Trump would rather be talking about anything else than the pandemic. Why? Let’s go back to late last winter and spring. On March 10, President Trump told Republican senators, “We’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.” Three days later at a press conference, Trump became the anti-Truman, telling the nation, “I don’t take responsibility at all.” President Truman, whose White House desk featured the sign, “The buck stops here,” had been an obscure Missouri haberdasher and then senator when President Franklin Roosevelt elevated him to the ticket in 1944. Within a year, he had not only become president with FDR’s death, but launched the planet’s only atomic attack. By April, when epidemiologists began to understand this mysterious microbe, they determined that the simple act of wearing a face mask when in public could save tens of thousands of lives. On April 3, Trump said, “The CDC is advising the use of non-medical cloth face covering as an additional voluntary public health measure. So it’s voluntary. You don’t have to do it. They suggested for a period of time, but this is voluntary. I don’t think I’m going to be doing it.”
  • SHELBURN, Ind. - At this writing, Indiana reported a record high 2,880 new COVID-19 cases. This comes as Hoosiers are in the midst of deciding whether to rehire Gov. Eric Holcomb, or change course with Democrat and former health commissioner Woody Myers, or Libertarian Donald Rainwater. Myers entered this race with what appeared to be the perfect resume, having served when AIDS first surfaced. Yet on his final 2019 finance report, he posted just $14,000 while the Democratic caucuses in the General Assembly are tiny, having endured super minority status for the past four years. There are no Libertarians in the legislature, Rainwater has few if any relationships there, and it's hard to see how he would stock a new administration. In a sign of how strange an election year this is, Rainwater has raised enough money to run statewide TV and radio ads over the final two weeks; Myers was sitting on a mere $80,000 at the end of the third quarter and is radio silent. Political fundraising shouldn't be the prism under which to make a choice, but it is a factor when it comes to choosing a governor who would have the political support and governing components. Last Saturday, I traveled with Gov. Holcomb on a rare pandemic campaign swing. We both wore face masks the entire time.
  • INDIANAPOLIS – About two hours before Gov. Eric Holcomb’s weekly pandemic press conference Wednesday, Indiana University Prof. Aaron Carroll took part in a “Keeping IU Healthy” webinar. He was asked about the 1,700 COVID-19 cases the state reported earlier in the day: “Will the state hover around that or get worse?” Dr. Carroll, of the Indiana University School of Medicine, responded, “I think it will get worse over the next few weeks and then after the election I hope we start ratcheting things back. We can, as we have in the past, limit the spread of disease and make it safer. That will require governments to act and they often act slowly. “Even in the bad second wave, Arizona, Florida, Texas they got hold of it. They had to take action. They had to do some unpopular things, but they were able to ratchet it back to achieve a better level of success,” Dr. Carroll continued. “It will take Indiana taking action. I believe they will, it just may be a couple weeks off because the election, frankly, makes it harder to do a lot of stuff. Without laying blame or casting aspersions, ask me again in two weeks.” Gov. Holcomb was asked by the press about a possible reinstitution of lower stages. The governor became animated, saying, “Stage 5 has zero, nothing to do with any campaign. This has got to do with safely getting back to school, getting this economy reopened safely.”

  • CARMEL – There’s a political reason that, should he be reelected, Gov. Eric Holcomb will appoint a superintendent of public instruction. Look no further than the nationally watched 5th Congressional District, where former Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction. Suellen Reed endorsed Democrat Christina Hale on Wednesday in her race against Republican Victoria Spartz. Appearing in a TV ad with her husband, Phil, the Reeds introduced themselves as “lifelong Republicans.” Supt. Reed then says, “Cooperation, collaboration and compromise, that’s the way we get things get done.” Later, Reed adds, “She seeks common ground. That’s how democracy works. We’re voting Republican ... and for Christina Hale.” Reed’s endorsement makes it two out of the last three Republican superintendents to back Hale, who has been endorsed by current Supt. Jennifer McCormick. Former superintendent Tony Bennett has not weighed in. Governors of both parties have long salivated over the opportunity that likely faces Holcomb after the election. Reed was the Republican who served with Democratic Govs. Evan Bayh, Frank O’Bannon and Joe Kernan. Gov. Mike Pence served his four years with Democrat Supt. Glenda Ritz.

  • INDIANAPOLIS – We all knew this election was going to be about HIM. So what happens to Indiana’s down ballot candidates if and when President Trump’s reelection bid collapses? There is mounting evidence that a Democrat tsunami is forming. CNN/SSRS had Joe Biden with a 16-point lead nationally, 57-41%, on Monday, coming on the heels of NBC/Wall Street Journal Sunday that had Biden up 53-39%. The CNN poll revealed 69% don’t trust what the White House is telling the public about the president’s health. Biden leads by 9% in the Real Clear Politics Polling composite, crossing the 50% milepost. In swing states, Biden has crossed the 50% mark in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, is at 49% in Michigan and Arizona, and 48% in North Carolina and Florida. And almost all of these polls were conducted prior to Trump’s hospitalization for COVID and his chaotic return to the hotspot White House, where the virus has spread to 34 staffers. Sunday’s NBC/Wall Street Journal poll had Biden leading Trump by 27% among senior citizens (62% to 35%), and Monday’s CNN/SSRS poll had Biden up 21% (60% to 39%). Trump carried senior citizens by 7% in 2016. Why is Trump collapsing?  
  • INDIANAPOLIS – Gathering for dinner in 2015 at the governor’s retreat, Brown County State Park’s Aynes House, Gov. Mike Pence and U.S. Sen. Dan Coats came to some career conclusions. Pence decided he would not seek the presidency in 2016 and Coats opted against reelection. “We talked about the future and where God might lead each of us,” Coats explained to author Bob Woodward in the book “Rage”  released earlier this month. “We prayed that God would be clear and I think I raised the question that we should pray for clarity.” Donald Trump’s stunning 2016 upset of Hillary Clinton not only changed the course of history, it altered the life stories of Pence and Coats. Pence proposed that Coats speak to the president-elect, obstensibly to describe how the Senate works. A month after that meeting, Pence called Coats: “The president would like you to be director of national intelligence” overseeing the sprawling 17 spy agencies. The senator was reluctant. His wife, Marsha Coats, then an Indiana Republican national committeewoman, urged him accept. Coats concluded that Pence was trying to seed the Trump cabinet with allies, people who shared his religious values. The previous summer at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Coats told me how he had met with Trump, and he hand-delivered a message from his wife. Later, when Dan and Marsha Coats met with the billionaire in Fort Wayne, Trump sought her out. “He said, ‘Marsha, I will not let you down.’” Marsha Coats came to this conclusion: “God is so big he can even humble Donald Trump.” 

  • INDIANAPOLIS – Big Ten football made a stunning comeback on Wednesday. It announced it would revive its postponed season on Oct. 23-24. But the crowds won’t go crazy. The pandemic will keep stadiums mostly empty. This coincides with the University of Washington’s Health Metrics projected spike in COVID infections in Indiana beginning in late October. If Gov. Eric Holcomb’s mask mandates are discontinued or widely ignored (and there is ample evidence of this around the state), the projections are for increased deaths and hospital resource use that will surpass those of late April and early May during what was thought to be the first wave of the pandemic. If there is a clear winner in this beyond the highly ranked Ohio State Buckeyes, it is President Trump, who called Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren two weeks ago, urging him to reconsider the decision to postpone the season until the winter or spring of 2021. Through the prism of Trump’s shaky reelection bid, anything resembling a return to normal is to his advantage.
  • MICHIGAN CITY – I was with a veteran Democratic operative on a wintry night in 1998 when the story of President Clinton’s relationship with a White House intern broke on network news, Monica Lewinsky was revealed, and the scandal began mushrooming. My friend began laughing and then he blurted out, “It’s true!” How could he be so sure? I asked. “Because she’s his type,” came his response. And as we came to know through the tortuous process that led to Clinton’s impeachment … it was true. I tell this tale as the story broke late last week about President Trump’s disparaging remarks in the summer of 2018 when he refused to go to a ceremony honoring the 1,500 fallen U.S. Marines at the World War I Aisne-Marne Cemetery, reportedly saying these dead Americans were “losers.” Jeffrey Goldberg’s assertion in The Atlantic continued that Trump considered Vietnam vets “suckers” for fighting in a war he had avoided due to a friendly doctor’s diagnosis of bone spurs. On Wednesday, Bob Woodward’s book “Rage” cast further brooding shadows on the Trump psyche, with former Indiana senator Dan Coats and Vice President Pence’s  conspicuous but divergent roles coming into focus. Woodward recounts Defense Sec. Jim Mattis quietly going to Washington National Cathedral to pray about his concern for the nation’s fate under Trump’s command and, according to Woodward, told Director of National Intelligence Coats, “There may come a time when we have to take collective action” since Trump is “dangerous. He’s unfit.” In a separate conversation recounted by Woodward, Mattis told Coats, “The president has no moral compass,” to which the director of national intelligence replied, “True. To him, a lie is not a lie. It’s just what he thinks. He doesn’t know the difference between the truth and a lie.”
  • MICHIGAN CITY – If ever there was a professional resume to match a political moment, it could be that of Dr. Woody Myers. The Indiana Democratic gubernatorial nominee is a medical doctor who spent his mid-career as a health official to corporations like Ford Motor Co. The campaign notes: Dr. Myers’ career intersects with many of the highest-profile medical stories of the last few decades, including teaching emergency medicine in San Francisco at the time of the emerging AIDS crisis. Myers served as Indiana health commissioner and championed the cause of Ryan White, a young boy infected with HIV who wished to attend public school. On his Twitter account, Myers acknowledged, “My life has led to this reckoning of a pandemic, an economic collapse, and a racial awakening. This election, we are fighting to put people over politics and fix this broken system.” But as he heads into the Labor Day milepost, the Myers campaign languishes in his challenge to Gov. Eric Holcomb. The pandemic has crimped Myers’ challenge financially from its beginning in March. But he began the year with just a $14,648 balance, even though Myers declared his candidacy the previous July. The Myers campaign posted $678,296 on its June 30 mid-year report and had just $72,310 cash on hand, which is by far the worst performing gubernatorial campaign for the two “major” parties in a generation. Holcomb began the year with $7.25 million and at the June 30 reporting deadline, had more than $8 million cash on hand. He has already spent “seven figures” on two statewide TV ads and has booked all the ads the campaign figures it needs through the Nov. 3 election, according to his campaign manager, Indiana Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer. “We’re not going to take our foot off the gas,” Hupfer said.

  • INDIANAPOLIS - There’s a forecast that is predicting that up to 1.8 million Hoosiers will vote by mail via absentee ballot for the coming general election. This comes during a pandemic that has stricken more than 90,000 of us in cases documented by the Indiana State Board of Health and killed more than 3,000 Hoosiers.  While Gov. Eric Holcomb and Secretary of State Connie Lawson signed off on expanded, no-excuse absentee voting for the pandemic-delayed June 2 primary election, the state is sticking to its rules for the general. “I want to make it clear that we are going forward with a normal election process here in Indiana,” said Lawson, who is not granting press interviews due to litigation. “We will not be making changes like we did in the primary since the stay-at-home order has been lifted.”  Earlier this month, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Woody Myers and attorney general nominee Jonathan Weinzapfel called for an extension of the no-excuse absentee voting. “Indiana is one of only eight states that do not allow all voters to vote safely by mail in times of a pandemic,” they said in a statement. More than 500,000 people voted absentee in May and June. Weinzapfel added, “An overwhelming number of Hoosiers have been calling for safer voting options. With the election fast-approaching, our Indiana counties need direction now.”  President Trump has consistently said that voting by mail is corrupt and will “rig” the election, even though he and Vice President Pence as well as many U.S. military servicemen and women abroad vote that way. “Mail ballots, they cheat,” Trump said earlier this month.
  • INDIANAPOLIS – By any measure, Gov. Eric Holcomb’s mid-day address on Tuesday was extraordinary. Stating that Indiana stands at an “inflection point” and promising Hoosiers that he is prepared to become a racial “barrier buster,” the governor traced the nation’s racially charged lineage from Thomas Jefferson’s “Declaration of Independence” to the Civil War, to the Jim Crow era leading up to the civil rights movement, and the current Black Lives Matter. That it came a week before the virtual Republican National Convention with President Trump emanating a series of racial dog whistles ranging from his defense of Confederate statues to equating a Black Lives Matter mural as a “symbol of hate,” to Patricia and Mark McCloskey (the St. Louis couple pointing guns at a group of Black protesters) receiving invitation to address the RNC, is fascinating timing. By Wednesday, Holcomb’s bold move brought criticism from his right and left flanks. While most of the press equated Holcomb’s address to simple policy – Indiana State Police to be equipped with body cameras – there was something far deeper here. Holcomb began with a statement, saying racism is “another kind of virus that is equally voracious and it’s in turn forcing us to a reckoning as a state and nation – one that’s built on ‘equality for all.’”

  • INDIANAPOLIS – There was one key moment during the 2016 vice presidential debate between Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Democrat U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine. Pence was pressed on why he backed a ban on Syrian refugees. “I have no higher priority than the safety and security of the people of my state. So you bet I suspended that program,” Pence responded to Kaine. “And I stand by that decision. And if I’m vice president of the United States or Donald Trump is president, we’re going to put the safety and security of the American people first. Donald Trump has called for extreme vetting for people coming into this country so that we don’t bring people into the United States who are hostile to our Bill of Rights freedoms, who are hostile to the American way of life.” It led many observers to say that Pence won that debate, or at least held his own. And don’t forget, this came during Donald Trump’s pre-Comey meltdown period when most saw Pence as auditioning for a Fox News show and 2020. When Joe Biden picked U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris for his ticket on Tuesday, setting up what could be an out-sized debate sequence, given the pandemic has robbed us of conventions and rallies, the national pundits suggested Sen. Harris would, as the New York Times’s Frank Bruni put it, “have him for breakfast.” Republican strategist Steve Schmidt observed, “I think Mike Pence is going to have a very, very difficult time in the vice presidential debate. Frankly, intellectually, from an eloquence and articulation perspective, they’re not in the same league with each other.”
  • INDIANAPOLIS – In the April 7, 2011 edition of Howey Politics Indiana, I offered up this analysis of the coming reapportionment: "New Congressional and legislative maps are being forged in the Indiana House and Senate and are expected to be made public next week. Whatever the specifics are, the new maps will likely paint a grim picture for Indiana Democrats." The year before, Republicans seized control of the Indiana House, giving them a commanding trifecta (along with the staunchly GOP Indiana Senate and Gov. Mitch Daniels) to steer the reapportionment outcome. Then Secretary of State Todd Rokita, now the Republican nominee for attorney general, came up with what seemed to be reasonable guidelines: The districts would be based on “communities of interest” keeping legislative and congressional county lines intact, and nesting House districts in Senate districts. Gone would be the serpent-shaped gerrymandered maps Hoosier Democrats had drawn in 1991 and 2001. The final product, which breezed to passage and Daniels signature, came via computer-assisted Republican consultants. They worked with and weaponized the demographics from the 2010 Census that posed a daunting challenge to House Democrats. During that fateful spring of 2011, the 40 Democratic-held Indiana House districts gained a total of 4,681 people, an average of 117 per district. The 60 GOP-held Indiana House districts gained a total of 398,636 people; an average of 6,644 per district. In the April 14, 2011 edition of HPI, my analysis: "Canny House Republicans can get maps for the next decade that will be fertile ground for future majorities just by playing the demographics straight and following the Rokita doctrine that has been embraced by the governor." Now as we head into the fifth and final cycle of these maps, the adjective "grim" is an understatement for Hoosier Democrats. It has become an enduring nightmare. 

  • INDIANAPOLIS – We are less than 100 days before the November election and on Thursday, President Trump suggested via Twitter that it be delayed. "With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history," Trump began. "It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???"  His plaintive wails continued on Friday: “This will be catastrophic for our nation. You'll see it. I'm always right about things like this. I guess I must be, or I wouldn't be sitting here. Everyone knows mail-in ballots are a disaster." These grievances prompted the Wall Street Journal  to editorialize Friday, "Delaying the Nov. 3 elections is a dreadful idea. This is not to suggest that the November election will be 'rigged, as Mr. Trump asserts. If he believes that, he should reconsider his participation and let someone run who isn’t looking for an excuse to blame for defeat." In April, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said, “Mark my words, I think he is going to try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can’t be held.”  This is not an isolated case of the injection of doubt in what has become a cornerstone of American democracy: The national election and a peaceful transfer of power. 

  • INDIANAPOLIS – A day after Gov. Eric Holcomb had to tamp down rumors relegating COVID-19 as a “hoax” and conspiracy, and President Trump finally asked “everybody” to wear a face mask, Indiana became the third state headed by a Republican governor to mandate the now controversial facial coverings. In just about every other nation, wearing a face mask has been seen as a common sense approach to a pandemic where an estimated 40% in an Indiana University Fairbanks School of Public Health study are asymptomatic. In Japan, people wear masks when they catch a common cold out of respect and safety for those around them. In America and parts of Indiana, face masks are seen as an infringement on personal freedom. “We’ve arrived at this juncture because over the past several weeks, a few things have happened,” Holcomb said at his weekly press conference. “There has been a rise of COVID positivity across the state from a low of just 3.6% a month ago to where we find ourselves today with a seven-day average rate of just over 7%. The last couple of days it rose to 8%. “As a lagging indicator, our overall hospitalization has increased from about 600 a day at the end of June to about 800, where we are now,” Holcomb continued (there were 954 new cases on Thursday, 1,011 on Friday, 934 on Saturday). “Some counties in the past that had never been a blip on the radar screen for positive tests are reporting regular double digits of positive cases now, counties like Clark and Dubois, Kosciusko, Posey. 

  • INDIANAPOLIS – During a hot July four years ago,  Donald Trump rescued then Indiana Gov. Mike Pence from what many believed would be a career-ending loss to John Gregg. And now, four years hence, it is Vice President Pence who is tied inextricably to the flagging fortunes of America’s most conspicuous pandemic victim, President Trump. Vice presidents must become team players, echoing their boss. But what Vice President Pence faces now is a pandemic that is becoming the gravest crisis facing the nation since World War II. The emerging consensus is that with Pence at the helm of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, the federal response has been botched. It took Trump nearly two critical months to acknowledge this health crisis wasn’t a “hoax” dreamed up by Democrats and the news media. The federal response has been punted to the 50 states in what every other country has deemed to be a national crisis. With U.S. deaths approaching 140,000 in just five months, on Tuesday, Italy reported 114 new cases, Germany 276, and the United States 67,400. At critical junctures, Pence has misled the American people. In an April 24 interview with Geraldo Rivera, he said, “If you look at the trends today, that I think by Memorial Day weekend we will have this coronavirus epidemic behind us.”
  • BLOOMINGTON – Everyone, from Gov. Eric Holcomb to parents, teachers, students and employers, yearns to reopen schools and universities within the next three to four weeks. But parents are consumers, and most want schools to reopen when it is safe to do so. On Tuesday, President Trump injected politics into the equation that is being debated by thousands of school trustees, administrators, state and local health officials. “We hope that most schools are going to be open,” Trump said at the White House. “We don’t want people to make political statements or do it for political reasons. They think it’s going to be good for them politically so they keep the schools closed." He threatened to cut off federal aid to schools that don’t fully reopen. The problem these educators and trustees are facing is the resurgence of the first wave of COVID-19. Trump cited school reopenings in Germany, which posted 219 confirmed cases on Monday, compared to 192 in Italy and 57,186 in the U.S. On Friday, there were 68,226 new cases in the U.S. Indiana has seen its testing positivity rate increase to 5.9% this past week, a precursor to more trouble, which arrived on Friday when the Indiana State Department of Health announced 748 new cases, a spike of over 200 from the day before. It was the largest one-day increase since May 6, when cases increased by 837. Vice President Pence said at a now rare Coronavirus Task Force presser, “Well the president said today, we just don’t want the guidance to be too tough. That’s the reason why next week, the CDC is going to be issuing a new set of tools, five different documents that will be giving even more clarity on the guidance going forward.”

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  • 65% of Hoosiers voted in November election
    “We continue to see that candidates and issues drive turnout. Presidential elections tend to have higher turnout rates. That held true this year with 65% of Hoosiers turning out to vote, the highest percentage we’ve seen since 1992.” - Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, releasing totals for the Nov. 3 election which saw 4.7 million Hoosiers vote. In 2016 and 2012, voter turnout was at 58%. In 2008, 62% of registered Hoosiers voted in the General Election. Hamilton and Wells Counties had the highest turnout in the state with 75% turnout, followed by Greene, Hancock, Whitley at 74%.
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  • Trump and Biden priorities

    With American pandemic deaths crossing the 250,000 threshold, President Trump made calls to Michigan local election officials and is inviting legislators to the White House, while President-elect Joe Biden was talking to stressed out front line medical workers. That explains their priorities. Trump is attempting to undermine the American election system, with a Reuters/Ipsos Poll showing that 68% of Republicans now believing the election was "rigged."

    There are Republicans beginning to speak up (though none from Indiana). “Having failed to make even a plausible case of widespread fraud or conspiracy before any court of law, the President has now resorted to overt pressure on state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election," said Sen. Mitt Romney. "It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American President.” And Sen. Ben Sasse said, "President Trump lost Michigan by more than 100,000 votes, and the campaign and its allies have lost in or withdrawn from all five lawsuits in Michigan for being unable to produce any evidence. Wild press conferences erode public trust. We are a nation of laws, not tweets.” The damage to our most precious American cornerstone is stunning, disgusting and sad, and the whole world is watching. - Brian A. Howey, publisher

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