February 19, 2020

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg participated in CNN town halls in Nevada on Tuesday night, days before the state's caucuses.

Sanders is leading in the polls and did well in Iowa and New Hampshire, but when asked if he is the Democratic frontrunner, Sanders responded, "Who cares?" He also questioned whether his supporters were really sending threatening messages to Culinary Union in Nevada leaders over the union's criticism of Sanders' heath-care proposals. "The idea that anybody who works with me would make a vicious attack against a union leader just because we disagree on an issue is incomprehensible to me," he said. "And you know what, I'm just not sure that that's true."

Buttigieg called out several people close to Trump, including Attorney General William Barr. Barr's politicization of the Justice Department is "an emergency of legitimacy in our justice system," he said. "Our justice system only works if it is immune from the interference of politicians."

He also scoffed at Trump ally Rush Limbaugh lecturing him on family values. Buttigieg said his marriage "never involved me having to send hush money to a porn star after cheating on my spouse," a reference to Trump's 2016 hush-money payoff, via his incarcerated former lawyer Michael Cohen, to porn actress Stormy Daniels.

Klobuchar said while it would be "cool" to be the first woman president, "I think the story that we tell and the campaign that we run has to be more than about that. It has to be about people's dreams." She also shared why she was unable to remember the president of Mexico's name last week when asked during an interview — an error Buttigieg brought up. "When that happened, for what it's worth, I had been in the Senate all day," Klobuchar said. "We had six votes, including a resolution to be a check on the president. And I got on a plane and got there at midnight my time and had a fast interview and two forums after that, I think ending at about two or three in the morning. Such is life." Catherine Garcia

3:29 p.m.

President Trump may be dealing with the novel coronavirus pandemic, but he apparently still has time to boast about one of his favorite topics: television ratings.

Trump went on a bit of a tweet storm Sunday afternoon, citing a four-day-old report from The New York Times, which highlighted the number of viewers tuning into his revived daily White House briefings. The president earlier tweeted that the "lamestream media," as he refers to many news sources, wants him to fail, and suggested he was driving them "crazy" with the high ratings that matched programs like The Bachelor and Monday Night Football.

Unsurprisingly, Trump's tweets have already drawn the ire of his critics, who are baffled about where his focus is during the crisis.

2:12 p.m.

Congress has completed three phases of its economic recovery plan as the United States reckons with the novel coronavirus pandemic, but not everyone is confident the momentum that carried the legislative branch through the previous rounds will last long enough for number four.

Per The Wall Street Journal, big spending bills often fill members of Congress with doubts, and this one may be no different. "My guess is that this bill won't wear well over time, and Congress isn't going to be inclined to do another big package," Andy Laperriere, a policy analyst for investor advisory firm Cornerstone Macro, told the Journal. "There will be fraud, companies getting money going into bankruptcy, things that people on the left and right won't like."

Stephen Moore, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, doesn't think there will be much bipartisanship going forward, even if it's based on mutual disappointment. He says the next round of debates over new spending will re-open ideological splits. "The left is going to want to do infrastructure, welfare payments, and food stamps," he said. "Our side will want to do tax cuts and deregulation."

Despite such pessimism, lawmakers and Trump administration officials, as well as lobbyists, economists, and think tanks, are already back at working trying to set the framework for the next stage, as all sides look to once again find some sort of common ground. Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Tim O'Donnell

1:29 p.m.

The United States is preparing for a novel coronavirus epidemic that is national in scope.

"No state, no metro area will be spared," Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, told NBC's Chuck Todd on Sunday's edition of Meet the Press.

Birx was clear that no area of the country will evade the effects of the virus, but said the sooner places react and instill mitigation measures, the easier it will be to "move forward."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also provided a sense of scale Sunday, but he said he doesn't want to be held to any prediction. Fauci told CNN's Jake Tapper that he's never seen an outbreak match the worst-case scenario of its models, and he believes that remains unlikely for the coronavirus, as well. Nevertheless, he thinks it's possible the U.S. could be looking at somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths. Tim O'Donnell

1:01 p.m.

As hospitals across the United States face a shortage of medical supplies in the face of the novel coronavirus pandemic, planes are gearing up to bring in reinforcements.

The first aircraft in a series of flights scheduled by the White House over the next 30 days arrived in New York from Shanghai on Sunday morning, bringing with it 12 million gloves, 130,000 N95 masks, 17.6 surgical masks, 50,000 gowns, 130,000 hand sanitizer units, and 36,000 thermometers, all of which will be distributed throughout the New York tri-state area. A non-government distributor had actually already bought the supplies and planned to sell them in New York, but they'd normally arrive on ships. A sea voyage would've taken over a month, so the government is expediting the process by air. Going forward, the U.S. has 22 similar flights coming in over the next two weeks that will distribute supplies to different parts of the country, per Axios.

Navy Rear Admiral John Polowcyzk, who is running the Federal Emergency Management Agency's coronavirus supply chain task force, said he doesn't think the U.S. has ever seen anything like this on its own soil. "I don't know of another effort like this," he told Axios.

Polowcyzk is hoping it's only a two- or three-week effort, but admitted planes could be coming in over the next month. Read more at Axios. Tim O'Donnell

12:21 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden isn't surprised by President Trump's rising approval ratings, even as many argue his administration is floundering in their efforts to respond to the novel coronavirus crisis.

Biden said the American public typically rallies around the president during times of crisis, going all the back to former President Jimmy Carter's uptick during the Iran hostage crisis in 1979. Former President George W. Bush is another example — he famously peaked at around 90 percent approval in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, a number which he never came close to again.

Biden, who is Trump's most likely challenger in the 2020 general election in November, said he hopes the coronavirus outbreak is under control by then and that the U.S. has "done all the right things," including Trump refraining from attacking people who disagree with him. But he told NBC's Chuck Todd during Sunday's edition of Meet the Press that the "proof is gonna be in the pudding." Tim O'Donnell

10:59 a.m.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio doesn't want to focus on the past.

CNN's Jake Tapper played some clips of de Blasio urging New Yorkers to go about their daily lives despite worries about the threat of the novel COVID-19 coronavirus in January, February, and March on Sunday's edition of State of the Union. Tapper then asked the mayor if he thinks his messaging may have had something to do with how fast the virus has spread in the city, which has become the U.S. epicenter.

There was no outright denial from de Blasio, but he said he was working with the information he had at the time, while trying to make sure people's livelihoods remained intact. Now that it's become clear New York was unable to evade the virus, de Blasio argues "none of us have time to look backward." He said the only thing that should be on people's minds is how to get through the next week.

Tapper, though, pointed out that de Blasio himself has criticized President Trump for being behind the coronavirus curve, to which the mayor replied he was early in complaining about a lack of testing. But he also suggested now wasn't the moment to talk about that, either. "The time to deal with these questions is after this war is over," he said. Tim O'Donnell

10:39 a.m.

Despite some heavy criticism over how his administration has handled the novel coronavirus pandemic, polls continue to deliver good news for President Trump.

A new survey from The Washington Post and ABC News shows Trump is neck-and-neck with former Vice President Joe Biden, the favorite to win the Democratic nomination, months ahead of November's general election. Back in February, before the pandemic enveloped the United States emotionally and physically, Biden was leading in the same poll by seven percentage points. That lead has dwindled to two and, when considering the margin of error, places the two candidates in an effective tie.

Trump outpaces Biden among registered voters when it boils down to whom voters trust more to handle the coronavirus outbreak, although, similar to Biden's overall lead, the difference is statistically insignificant. Where they do separate from one another is on their prospective management of health care and the economy. Biden gets better marks in the former category, while Trump has a healthy lead in the latter.

Another possible area of worry for Biden is the apparent lack of enthusiasm among his supporters. Only 24 percent of his supporters say they are "very enthusiastic" about backing him.

The Washington Post-ABC News poll was conducted over the phone between March 22-25, surveying 1,003 adults and 845 registered voters. The margin of error was 3.5 percentage points. Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

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