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Sunday, October 25, 2020
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Thursday, November 14, 2019 11:58 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS  — South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has joined former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at the top of the leaderboard in the third Monmouth University Poll of the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses. Buttigieg’s gains since the summer have been across the board, with increasing support coming from nearly every demographic group.  Regardless, less than one-third of likely caucusgoers say that they are firmly set on their choice of candidate and most would not be too disappointed if they had to switch their support.  
  • Atomic! Million Hoosier votes; COVID spikes; Pence returns; Mayor Henry says 'not a hoax'; Donnelly assails veep

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Bloomington


    1. More than 1 million Hoosiers have voted: Here are your final power lunch talking points for the week:  More than 1 million Hoosiers have requested an absentee ballot or voted early in the 2020 General Election, according to Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson. With less than two weeks before the Nov. 3  election, 553,270 absentee by-mail ballots have been requested across the state, and 477,217 voters have voted at an early voting location, with a total of 1,042,319 ballots requested or submitted.  And early voting begins at several locations Saturday in Indianapolis. In the 2020 Primary Election, a total of 640,225 Hoosiers voted absentee in-person or by-mail.  In 2016, during the entire period of absentee voting for both in-person and by-mail, 977,239 ballots were submitted. “Hoosiers are eager to vote and are voting early in record numbers to make sure their voice is heard,” said Secretary Lawson. “Election officials across Indiana have worked tirelessly to make sure each voter is safe and secure, and I’m pleased to see this level of turnout heading into Election Day.” Lawson cautions that the increased volume of absentee ballots means that final election results may not be immediately available on Election Night. She told Howey Politics Indiana  in September she expected the results from Indianapolis to lag behind the other 91 counties, which are expected to finish counting on Election Night. Counties can begin tabulating absentee ballots at noon on Election Day.

  • HPI Interview: Gov. Holcomb in his last political campaign amidst pandemic
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    SHELBURN, Ind. – Nine months ago, Gov. Eric Holcomb was sitting on an $8 million campaign war chest, a 3.2% jobless rate and a $60 billion road funding plan. His main Democratic challenger had just posted $14,000 on his year-end campaign finance report. And then came the pandemic which forced the governor to impose an unprecedented economic shutdown. The pandemic has since killed 3,700 Hoosiers, forced schools to close, put half a million small businesses on the brink of bankruptcy, and the jobless rate estimated to hit 17% by May. Last Saturday on what became a rare 2020 campaign swing through southwestern Indiana, this writer passed a COVID-19 test, donned a face mask and joined Holcomb, Indiana Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer and GOP communications director Jake Oakman, a day that yielded more than two hours of interview time. Holcomb told Howey Politics Indiana that the state’s top priority during this third COVID-19 wave rattling the state is “to maintain our posture in our ability and capacity to care for those who are in need.”

  • Horse Race: INGov debate not likely to alter dynamic; legislative money updates
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – If anything, Tuesday’s unremarkable gubernatorial debate provided a vivid contrast to that jarring presidential debate in Cleveland. It was civil. But after an hour, the dynamics of this race which is headed for a GOP landslide didn’t change. Gov. Eric Holcomb took in-coming from both Democrat Woody Myers and Libertarian Donald Rainwater over his pandemic response. “This is an extraordinary time and we’ve had to take extraordinary measures,” Holcomb said. “So we do have a state-mandated mask requirement throughout the state; it’s a strong statement that says this works.” Myers responded that Holcomb’s mandate was just a “mask suggestion.” Rainwater insisted, “Nowhere in constitution does it say that individual rights can be suspended.” And, the Libertarian added, science hasn’t proved people are at risk. Rainwater added later that “It’s not government’s job to create jobs, but to protect individual rights.”
  • Atomic! Unremarkable INGov debate; Shiny supt; Klain to be Biden CoS?
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. A civil, unremarkable debate: Here are your hump day power lunch talking points: If anything, Tuesday's unremarkable gubernatorial debate provided a vivid contrast to that jarring presidential debate in Cleveland. But after an hour, the dynamics of this race which are headed for a GOP landslide didn't change. Gov. Eric Holcomb took on-coming from both Democrat Woody Myers and Libertarian Donald Rainwater over his pandemic response. "This is an extraordinary time and we've had to take extraordinary measures," Holcomb said. "So we do have a state-mandated mask requirement throughout the state; it's a strong statement that says this works."

  • Atomic! INGov debates seldom impactful; Pence to campaign in Indiana; 6.2% jobless rate

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. INGov debates seldom impactful: Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: Tonight's 7 p.m. (E.T.) debate between Gov. Eric Holcomb, Libertarian Donald Rainwater and Democrat Woody Myers is another cycle staple. But I can't remember a debate that actually shifted an election outcome, perhaps due to the relatively miniscule viewership. In 2000, Gov. Frank O'Bannon and GOP challenger David McIntosh mixed it up over graduation rates and the incumbent's "mismanagement." Gov. O’Bannon responded, “You’re right; the buck does stop here. Every now and then, we get an employee that steps off the wrong way and we get rid of them.” O’Bannon went after McIntosh, saying, “I’ll stand on my record. I’ve cut taxes $1.5 billion.” In 2004, Mitch Daniels lashed out at Gov. Joe Kernan in New Albany: “Governor, you called me in your ads greedy, you've called me untrustworthy, you said I don't know the difference between right and wrong. It makes me want me to say, 'Say it ain't so, Joe.'" And in 2012 at Notre Dame, Democrat John Gregg called Rep. Mike Pence a "tea partier" and an "extremist," adding that Pence was a Capitol Hill "show horse" who would become a "one-trick pony" governor, prompting a peeved Pence to respond, "That's not true, John." Pence won, but barely, becoming the only modern governor not to attain 50%. These exchanges didn't alter the race trajectories, but burnished existing talking points.

  • Atomic! Holcomb eyes COVID 'capacity'; WH task force turmoil; Trump up 8%; 'Scrambled' nothingburger
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Shelburn, Ind.

    1. Holcomb eyes managed COVID capacity; Gov. Eric Holcomb told Howey Politics Indiana that the state's top priority during this third COVDID-19 wave rattling the state is "to maintain our posture in our ability and capacity to care for those who are in need." In an exclusive interview on Saturday, Holcomb said that with the shut down he ordered last March, "We had to get our footing because of the scale and pace this virus was moving, we had to make sure we had that capacity to care for those in need and to get those resources out for our front lines to deal with all the incoming."  With cases surging above 1,000 cases a day for nine out of the last 10 (on Sunday with 1,629 new infections) there were still 36.3% of ICU beds and 79.6% of ventilators available. Holcomb said that should the surge of infections continue, the state will have the capacity to add ICU beds, as it did last spring. As of Sunday, the state had issued 2.5 million tests, with 147,582 positive cases and a 7-day positivity rate of 11.4%. There have been 3,704 deaths.

  • HPI Analysis: Barrett, Pence duck the 'peaceful transfer of power' questions
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – Two Hoosiers were on conspicuous national stages this month when they were asked what in just about any other era would be perceived as Chicago-style softball questions. Vice President Mike Pence was asked by debate moderator Susan Page, “President Trump has several times refused to commit himself to a peaceful transfer of power after the election. If Vice President Biden is declared the winner and President Trump refuses to accept a peaceful transfer of power, what would be your role and responsibility as vice president? What would you personally do?” And U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett was asked by Sen. Dianne Feinstein at Monday’s Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, “Does the Constitution give the president of the United States the authority to unilaterally delay a general election under any circumstances? Does federal law?” That these two questions would even have to be asked is a troubling sign of our times. Why? Because President Trump has stoked the body politick into believing that he might not accept the results of the Nov. 3 election. Trump said he would “see what happens” when pressed about a peaceful transition of power during a Sept. 23 news conference. “There won’t be a transfer, frankly, there’ll be a continuation.”

  • Atomic! Indiana's COVID winter coming; Colts hit; Gov defends; Woody assails; Holcomb's Trump dilemma
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. COVID winter is coming ...: Here are your final power lunch talking points for the week: Winter is coming. That was the frequent warning in "Game of Thrones" aptly applied today. Over the past 36 hours, we've seen Indiana Health Commissioner Kristina Box and two family members test positive for COVID, Gov. Eric Holcomb and staff test negative, the rate of infections across the broader population now reaching 2,328 new infections reported Friday, and this morning we learn that the virus has invaded the Colts complex. "This morning, we were informed that several individuals within our organization have tested positive for COVID-19," the Colts said in a statement. "The team is currently in the process of confirming those tests. In the meantime, the practice facility will be closed and the team will work remotely while following NFL protocols. We are in communication with the NFL and will have more information when available." ESPN was reporting that at this writing, Sunday's 1 p.m. home game with Cincinnati is still on and the Colts reported mid-day Friday that four people in the complex had tested positive Thursday, but tested negative on Friday. The weather is turning colder, with epidemiologists like former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb warning that the microbe is now spreading into family settings, throwing Thanksgiving and Christmas plans into doubt. Winter is coming, and it looks like it will be a long, long one. If there is some good news, Pfizer said it could be ready to apply for emergency-use authorization of its vaccine by late November.

  • HPI Analysis: Gubernatorial coattails overrated as Myers slips into Pearson territory
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  – If there was a poster boy for gubernatorial futility prior to 2020, it would be Republican Linley Pearson in 1992. Pearson easily won the Republican nomination, but had a GOP convention meltdown over who the attorney general nominee would be. In the general election, Pearson faced popular Gov. Evan Bayh who was perceived as destined for the national ticket. Bayh ended up walloping Pearson by 559,618 votes, or by a 25% plurality landslide. In the television age of Indiana politics, it stands as historic relief between the two major parties. But in Bayh’s landslide win, the yield down ballot was limited, with Democrats picking up just five General Assembly seats. The surreal, pandemic-stricken 2020 election cycle stands to rewrite the landslide annals. A SurveyUSA Poll released Wednesday has Holcomb with a 55-35% lead over Democrat Woody Myers with 10% for Libertarian Donald Rainwater. In the BK Strategies Poll released by Indiana Republicans last week, Holcomb had a gaping 60% to 21% lead over Myers, with Rainwater polling at 6%. 

  • Horse Race: Hale enlists rogue GOP superintendents
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – 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 CD, where former Republican Supt. Suellen Reed endorsed Democrat Christina Hale on Wednesday. Appearing in the 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.
  • Horse Race: Following the late money in House, Senate races
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - It’s follow-the-money time, and that leads us to conclude that SD30 is truly a tossup race while Republican State Reps. Dale Devon and Martin Carbaugh are trying to stave off challenges from Dr. Donald Westerhausen and Kyle Miller, while the House Republican Campaign Committee is targeting the rematch between State Rep. Lisa Beck and Julie Olthoff. SD30: In the tossup race between Republican State Sen. John Ruckelshaus and Democrat Fady Qaddoura, Qaddoura received $2,000 from LIUNA State Indiana District Council PAC; Ruckelshaus received $10,000 from Northern Indiana Joint Operators Management-Labor PAC, and $10,000 from Jill Ruckelshaus of Washington state. 
  • Atomic! Money flows into 5th CD; ACB grilling; Holcomb talks 'surgical' COVID response; Indy homicide record
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Carmel

    1. 5th CD money war: Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: Money continues to spill into the 5th CD race. Republican Victoria Spartz announced her campaign raised $1.1 million in the third quarter. It follows Democrat Christina Hale who posted $1.7 million last week. Hale has raised more than $3.1 million, while Spartz has raised $2.3 million, of which around $1 million was from the candidate. Spartz didn't release any particulars, but said, “I am particularly humbled by the thousands of small donors who contributed to our effort because they believe that the election is important, our country is worth fighting for, and the we need more people with real world experience in office and fewer self-serving career politicians.” Hale cited 14,000 unique donors, of which 89% were $100 or less.

  • Atomic! COVID spike; Gov stays the course; Myers urges rollback; ACB hearings begin
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Indiana’s record COVID spike: Here are your Monday power lunch talk points: Indiana is now in the midst of a pandemic spike, with 1,832 new coronavirus cases on Friday, and 1,945 on Saturday, and 1,579 on Sunday. There were 21 deaths on Friday, 19 on Saturday and 13 on Sunday.  Six percent of Friday's batch of tests came back positive; for first-time patients, the rate is 14.9%, which is the highest since May 6. The 7-day average, which runs a week behind, holds at 5.1%, but rises to 9.3% for first-timers. When Gov. Eric Holcomb put the state on Stage 5 two weeks ago, the positivity rate stood under 4%. The percentage of ICU beds available statewide is at its lowest (30.3%) since the state started reporting that number in early April. The available percentage of ventilators is still strong, at 78.8%, but it hasn't been lower than that since late April. South Bend Tribune:  While noting he doesn’t make long-term predictions “based on a virus that is uber-infectious and easy to spread,” for now Gov. Holcomb continue urging Hoosiers to wear masks and hope they comply. “We need to make sure that we keep our economy up and running and do it safely, and we’ll continue to get that word out,” Holcomb said. “But what I’m pleading and begging and asking Hoosiers all over the state is to do what works. Do what was working before when we were alarmed.” 

  • Atomic! Screaming Trump; Pence diverts; Coats, Roemer, Hamilton seek 'election integrity'; Morris & U.N. food program
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Zionsville

    1. Screaming Twitter POTUS: Here are your final power lunch talking points for the week: When you tweet or write everything in caps, you’re screaming at your audience. On Thursday, President Trump appeared on Fox News, demanding that Attorney General Barr arrest his challenger, Joe Biden, his 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton and former President Obama for “treason.” It's right out of the Kremlin playbook or something you'd see in a banana republic. President Trump then tweeted: “DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS, THE BIGGEST OF ALL POLITICAL SCANDALS (IN HISTORY)!!! BIDEN, OBAMA AND CROOKED HILLARY LED THIS TREASONOUS PLOT!!! BIDEN SHOULDN’T BE ALLOWED TO RUN - GOT CAUGHT!!!”  This is sophomoric ranting, more suitable for a middle school newspaper. It's hard to believe I'm even writing about this in America. It is chilling to hear the president of the United States call on his attorney general to arrest his political opponents and predecessors for "treason." It is equally chilling that militias in Michigan appear to be acting on President Trump's "stand by" and "Liberate Michigan" comments in their plot to kidnap, hold a trial and execute Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who calls President Trump “complicit” in the conspiracy. She added: "Just last week, the president of the United States stood before the American people and refused to condemn white supremacists and hate groups like these two Michigan militia groups. ’Stand back and stand by.’ Hate groups heard the president's words not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry.”  
  • HPI Horse Race: Trump-induced blue wave forming; down ballot impacts weighed
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  – We all knew this election was going to be about HIM. So what happens down ballot 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 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 is at 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 seniors (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? 

  • Horse Race: Holcomb 40% ahead of Myers; Rainwater at 6%
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Republicans released an internal poll on Wednesday showing Gov. Eric Holcomb with a 40-point lead. The BK Strategies Poll (600 likely voters, Oct. 4-5, MOE +/-4.0) had Holcomb leading the ballot test 60%, with beleaguered Democrat nominee Woody Myers at 21% and Libertarian Donald Rainwater at 6%. Indiana Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer decided to release the internal polling after an Indy Politics survey in September had Holcomb with just a 6% lead over Myers, while Rainwater was at 24%. “I think it is important to have accurate numbers in the arena,” he said.
  • Pence-Harris debate: What they didn't say
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – The Mike Pence/Kamala Harris veep debate showdown did not reshape the contours of the 2020 presidential election. The two nominees emphasized with a much greater degree of civility two core issues confronting American voters during this bizarre cycle, and offered a glimpse into 2024 when the two may be seeking the top job, as President Trump and Joe Biden are the two oldest nominees in history, with the former currently battling COVID 19. But the most conspicuous element of this debate was ignored by both candidates when moderator Susan Page asked them whether they would accept the election results and participate in a peaceful transfrer of power. Neither the vice president or the senator directly answered. Pence said he expects President Trump to win.

  • Atomic! Balcony bravado; Winnecke's COVID warning; Hale posts $1.7M
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. Trump's balcony bravado: Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: President Trump disembarked Marine I, climbed up the White House portico steps, removed his mask and posed at the top, gasping for air. That's the "reset" Americans witnessed at 6:30 Monday night when Trump returned from Walter Reed Medical Center, still suffering the impacts of COVID-19 and still contagious. It drew Twitter "balcony" comparisons to Mussolini, Noriega, Pinochet and the Three Stooges, making for the most disastrous photo op since his June 1 upside down "Bible" incident at Lafayette Park. Trump said in a video, “Don’t be afraid of COVID. Don’t let it dominate your life.” There is mounting evidence that a blue tsunami is forming. CNN/SSRS  had Joe Biden with a 16-point lead nationally, 57-41%, coming on the heels of NBC/Wall Street Journal  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. 

  • Atomic! Tsunami watch; Trump med updates; Gov says another shutdown possible
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Blue wave mounts: Here are your Monday power lunch talking points on your last day to register to vote in Indiana: There's a reason why House Speaker Todd Huston is running TV ads in his rematch against Democrat Aimee Rivera Cole. It's inoculation for what appears to be the building Blue Wave. Campaign sources tell HPI  that Huston is not in trouble ... for now. But with President Trump trailing Joe Biden 53-39% in the national NBC/Wall Street Journal  poll released Sunday, and Biden cresting above 50% in several swing state polls, the ingredients are in place for a Democratic tidal wave ... even here in Mike Pence's amber waves of grain. I know, I know, we thought we saw a blue tsunami in the early summer of 2016, and again on the eve of the first Trump/Clinton debate in last October's "Access Hollywood"  weekend, but this is different. Trump is facing Joe Biden and not the much hated Hillary Clinton. In the NBC/WSJ Poll, Trump was trailing Biden by a stunning 62-35% among senior citizens (which Trump carried four years ago) as well as suburban women, 58 to 33%. That's why you're seeing 5th CD GOP nominee Victoria Spartz's campaign running negative ads against Democrat Christina Hale, in addition to attacks ads from the RNCC and Club For Growth. That President Trump was hospitalized Friday for COVID-19 after months of downplaying the pandemic, apparently appearing at fundraisers and other events after a first positive test, means the pandemic will be the key issue down the homestretch.
  • HPI Analysis: Judge Barrett & Pence' s career goal
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – It stands to be a future framed picture in Vice President Mike Pence’s office: On Monday, he was climbing the U.S. Capitol steps with 7th Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett of South Bend. The tall, slender judge is adjusting her necklace; the vice president is reaching into his pocket, a look of exhilaration on his face. The U.S. Supreme Court is off in the distance. It was a day the vice president probably dreamed about for decades, particularly after he reemerged in the 1990s following two unsuccessful congressional campaigns as an ardent pro-life advocate. Throwing Roe into the “ash heap of history,” as Pence put it, has been his defining mission as Politico put it, the core of a political career that took him from Congress to the governor’s mansion to the vice presidency.

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  • Beau Bayh makes campaign debut
    “The first home I went home to in Indianapolis was the Governor’s Mansion, which is proof that Democrats can win in Indiana.” - Beau Bayh, campaigning on behalf of Democrat gubernatorial nominee Woody Myers. He is the son of former governor and senator Evan Bayh. In October 1984, a young Evan Bayh barnstormed the state with underdog gubernatorial hopeful Wayne Townsend ("Go get 'em, Wayne"). When the pair appeared at the Elkhart Truth, reporter (and future Bayh) staffer Phil Schermerhorn asked Bayh, "Evan, what are you running for?"). In 1986, Evan Bayh won the secretary of state's office, then ended the GOP's 20-year gubernatorial dynasty two years later. With Hoosier Democrats barely above the Libertarians in the party pecking order (Donald Rainwater is running TV and radio ads; Myers isn't), the young Bayh's appearance will stoke up speculation that it may take a third-generation Bayh to restore Indiana Democrats to major party status.
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  • Trump nominates Judge Barrett for SCOTUS
    "The flag of the United States is still flying at half-staff in memory of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to mark the end of a great American life. Justice Ginsburg began her career at a time when women were not welcome in the legal profession. But she not only broke glass ceilings, she smashed them. Justices Scalia and Ginsburg disagreed fiercely in print without rancor in person. In both my personal and professional relationships, I strive to meet that standard. Judges are not policy makers and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold." - 7th Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump's U.S. Supreme Court nominee, on the friendly relationship between the late Associate Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who she hopes to replace. President Trump said, "She is a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution." The South Bend resident and former Notre Dame Law professor will appear in the Senate for her first confirmation hearing on Oct. 12. Republicans hope to have her confirmed prior to the Nov. 3 election. If confirmed, she would become the second Hoosier to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, joining Associate Justice Sherman Minton, who served from 1949 to 1956. Chief Justice John G. Roberts is a native of Long Beach.
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