While what’s going on behind the scenes mostly remains unknown, in public, voters have seen an outpouring of affection for a job John Nance Garner declared was worth less than “a bucket of warm piss.” Garner was Franklin Roosevelt’s vice president. Some of the women vying to be Joe Biden’s running mate have appeared on late-night talk show appearances, been profiled in glossy magazines, and announced outright that they’d accept the job. That’s not the case for Senator of Nevada, who has stayed out of the limelight and yet remains on most lists as a possible running mate for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Why? On paper, Cortez Masto seems like the key to a golden ticket. However, multiple sources tell CBS News campaign reporter Cara Korte that Cortez Masto might not be interested.
While prominent Democrats have advocated for Biden to pick a black running mate, Cortez Masto’s background would offer diversity, too. Picking a Latina could be helpful to Biden, who has struggled to win over Latino voters during the primaries. Latino Decisions conducted a recent poll that showed Biden losing ground with Latino voters: 59% said they support or lean towards him, down from 67% in February. Cortez Masto, 56, has the kind of resume that puts her on par with other potential running mates. From 1999 to 2001, she served as a criminal prosecutor for the U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C. Later, in 2007, like Senator Kamala Harris in California, Cortez Masto became state attorney general. It was during her tenure AG that she forged a relationship with Beau Biden, Joe Biden’s late son and the former Attorney General of Delaware. That relationship brought Joe Biden and Cortez Masto together in October 2016. He campaigned for her in Las Vegas, eighteen months after his son’s untimely death. Biden spoke about his son’s relationship with Cortez Masto at length on the trail, telling voters, “My son had, really, very good judgment. And my son truly, truly, truly admired Catherine.”
Even with her credible resume, it’s possible she’s not interested. She has in the past said she’s not interested in the job. In November, while taking questions from the press at Nevada Democrats’ “First In the West” dinner, she told CBS News that she would say no if offered the job of running mate. CBS News reached out Cortez Masto’s office to see if her opinion has changed. They did not respond. A source with close knowledge of Cortez Masto’s political team confirmed to CBS News that she’s “not actively campaigning” to be Biden’s running mate — a trait that, this year, seems to set her apart.
Joe Biden was once again off the virtual trail on Monday, but he is scheduled to appear at a virtual fundraiser later in the evening. CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson first reported this weekend that the campaign held its highest-grossing fundraiser yet on Friday evening with California Governor Gavin Newsom, bringing in $2.7 million dollars in just one evening. The campaign also announced on Monday the joint fundraising amount between the campaign and the Democratic National Committee brought in $60.5 million in April. This amount was all brought in via online donations or virtual high-dollar fundraisers. On Monday in a Washington Post op-ed, Biden argued Mr. Trump is putting forth a “childish” tactic of trying to “divide” Americans to choose between opening up the economy or focusing on public health. With this binary choice, Biden continues to paint Mr. Trump as not caring about others: “They knew exactly how to make the Oval Office safe and operational, and they put in the work to do it… They just haven’t put in that same work for the rest of us.” Biden also welcomed the wonkiness of the #YangGang to his campaign podcast, “Here’s the Deal.” Biden and talked like econ bros (with frequent “Yeah, man”s) about how to get people safely back to work. Yang did not hold back on his advice to Biden: He said the economy should enter a “temporary Rip Van Winkle period” and in the meantime, the U.S. should put together a “Marshall Plan” to get the country back up and running. Biden enthusiastically agreed. Once Biden can get back to campaigning, Yang said Biden should go and join Mike Rowe on Dirty Jobs to embrace and advertise in-demand labor jobs that pay well. “These are awesome jobs!” Yang said
“I don’t think the system broke down at all,” Mr. Trump told reporters Monday in the Rose Garden, after least three senior officials leading the nation’s coronavirus response have begun self-quarantine and two White House personnel — one of President Trump’s personal valets and Katie Miller, a spokeswoman for Vice President Mike Pence — tested positive for coronavirus. “I think we’ve controlled it very well. We have hundreds and hundreds of people a day pouring in to the White House,” the President said, noting that he felt “no vulnerability at all” after the positive cases were detected. The president added he will consider separating himself from Pence in the days to come. “We can talk on the phone,” Mr. Trump told reporters.
The Trump administration issued a new memo Monday requiring allat all times, except when seated at their desks. All White House employees received an email on Friday that includes the language “practice maximum telework” and “work remotely if at all possible,” CBS News White House correspondent Weijia Jiang reports. “I did, I required it,” the President told reporters Friday during a coronavirus briefing. A senior White House official confirmed that testing within the West Wing will expand starting today and the number of White House personnel needing to be near the president and vice president will be limited going forward, reports CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett. The White House medical unit is also requiring all visitors, press, and White House staff to do temperature checks at the security gates before they are allowed on-campus, report CBS News White House producers Arden Farhi and Sara Cook. The White House started temperature checks for those in close proximity to the president and vice president on March 14, and these checks were expanded campus-wide on March 16. The White House began to do “regular testing” for COVID-19 on April 3 for guests in close proximity to the president. Following the positive test by the Mr. Trump’s valet, the White House instituted daily testing for White House staffers in close proximity to the President and Vice President.
Mr. Trump on Monday rebuked Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf on Twitter, accusing the Democratic state executive of delaying his states’ reopening to hurt the president’s re-election campaign, CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga reports. “Don’t play politics,” Mr. Trump tweeted Monday. “The great people of Pennsylvania want their freedom now, and they are fully aware of what that entails.” Asked to clarify his statement, Mr. Trump said on Monday, “There just seems to be no effort on certain blue states to get back into gear. The people aren’t going to stand for it. They want to get back. They’re not going to stand for it.” The president announced the federal government will distribute $11 billion authorized by the CARES Act to the states for increased testing. “If someone wants to be tested right now, they’ll be able to get tested,” the President said.
The Trump campaign’s latest eight-figure ad blitz targeting Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has officially begun, according to Sganga. The Trump campaign tested over 30 Facebook advertisements attacking the former Vice President on his diplomatic stance toward China and mental acuity, today alone. According to Kantar/CMAG, the president’s re-election campaign spent over $5 million on local television airwaves through May 19, with nearly half invested in the key battleground state of Florida.
Pence and Dr. Deborah Birx, appearing from separate rooms within the White House complex, held a teleconference call with state governors today, according to one participant on the call. CBS News political correspondent Ed O’Keefe and campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar report the Trump administration is pushing to increase testing for COVID-19 and recommending that more than 1 million nursing residents and staff be tested in the coming weeks. Pence also announced that positive cases are dropping nationally including in the New York metro area, which has gone from 12,000 positive cases per day to about 2,800 per day. Administration officials are worried about a rising number of cases in the Twin Cities, where positive tests have gone from less than 100 per day to 400 per day in the past week. Three states – Minnesota, South Dakota and Maryland as well as Washington, D.C. – have 20% or more testing positive. With the exception of Nebraska, which has outbreaks in prisons, every other state is trending downwards. One participant on the call noted that signs of social distancing were obvious. Pence was in the situation room, Birx was in a separate area, and other administration officials joined by telephone. “They are really social distancing today. Most of them on a phone. Birx and Pence alone in different rooms,” said the person familiar who was granted anonymity to speak frankly about the call. “When they were setting up prior to the start they were wearing masks,” the person added. This comes after Pence’s press secretary tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday. But, a spokesperson for Pence said on Sunday that the vice president “is not in quarantine,” and has “tested negative every single day.”
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced today that she will go into a “modified quarantine” after being near a White House staffer testing positive for coronavirus, last week, CBS News correspondent Nikole Killion reports. Reynolds visited the president at the White House and hosted Pence in Iowa on Friday, along with Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst. Reynolds said she is healthy and “feeling fine” without any symptoms. “However, out of an abundance of caution,” said the governor, “I will follow a modified quarantine plan similar to what Dr. Fauci and other White House administration members have announced that they’re doing.” The Iowa governor confirmed she will follow a modified quarantine plan, similar to Dr. Anthony Fauci’s course of action after also coming into “low risk” contact with a White House staffer testing positive. She added that she will be tested daily and was negative as of this morning.
Senator Tammy Baldwin is “in regular contact with the Biden campaign,” she said on CBSN Monday. “I want to make sure that that Vice President Biden becomes the next president of the United States,” she told CBSN’s Tanya Rivero, who asked whether she’d join Joe Biden’s team. According to CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak, Baldwin said she has advised Biden’s campaign on the battle brewing in her home state of Wisconsin, which Mr. Trump won narrowly in 2016, “but I keep my counsel with the vice president’s campaign private.” Baldwin also said every woman deserves to be heard, but she agrees with Biden’s handling thus far of allegations of sexual assault made against him by a former Senate staffer. “I also have heard Vice President Biden very directly asked about these allegations, deny them firmly, and go the next step of saying if you can find any complaint that was ever filed in the senate against him that he clears that for public disclosure.” she said. “And I agree with him, and I think that is the next step.”
Bernie Sanders joined The Washington Post’s Robert Costa this morning discuss Biden and COVID-19 relief. CBS News campaign reporter Cara Korte says Sanders was asked about Elizabeth Warren being a potential running mate who could make the ticket more progressive. “Elizabeth is an outstanding U.S. Senator and I think she would be a great choice if she was someone Biden feels comfortable with,” said Sanders. He went onto joke that picking a VP was “not quite like getting married” but had a lot to do with “personal chemistry.” Sanders continued to knock Mr. Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican leadership for their COVID relief efforts, calling the response so far “atrocious”. Sanders said Mr. Trump has members of the task force (excluding Dr. Fauci) “under his thumb” and the president is therefore negatively influencing the response. Finally, on policy Sanders said that he will continue to try to push Biden further to the left. He also noted that he hopes Biden will choose progressives for his theoretical Cabinet, and embrace Medicare for All. Asked about some of his supporters being weary of Biden, Sanders said, “On his worst day, Joe’s 1000 times better than Trump on his best day, so I’m strongly supporting Joe.”
The North Carolina Democratic Party announced Monday that in partnership with the Democratic Coordinated Campaign, the group made more than 22,000 phone calls to voters during its first-ever Digital Day of Action. More than 100 volunteers helped make the calls over a two-day span this past weekend, according to CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell. “Even as the coronavirus pandemic has limited some forms of traditional campaigning, we continue to see overwhelming excitement and support at the grass roots level across North Carolina,” said NCDP Executive Director Meredith Cuomo. “These impressive figures are just the latest demonstration of the enthusiasm our Party is seeing, and Republicans up and down the ballot should be nervous,” she said. Cuomo added that the NCDP will continue to digitally organize and look for ways to virtually engage voters across the state. Already the state Democratic party has had to develop virtual organizing and fundraising events in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The NCDP announced in April that there was record turnout during its county conventions that were held virtually. The latest effort over the weekend was done in conjunction with the Democratic Coordinated Campaign, which is a joint effort between the Democratic National Committee, the NCDP, and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s campaign. According to the NCDP press release, the Coordinated Campaign has hired more than 50 full-time organizers in North Carolina to date. And in April, the group reportedly made more than 200,000 calls and recruited nearly 400 volunteers.
Wisconsin will hold its second election during the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, according CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster. The special election in Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District, a large, mostly rural district in the northwestern part of the state, features Republicans trying to defend a seat vacated by former Congressman Sean Duffy, who resigned for family reasons. Democrats held the district for 40 years until Duffy won the seat in 2010. Mr. Trump won the district by 20 points in 2016, but in the April election, the conservative state Supreme Court candidate beat the liberal candidate by 6 points, according the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. Election officials have encouraged people to vote by mail during the special election. As of Monday morning, more than 76,000 absentee ballots have been returned in the election, or about two-thirds of the ballots requested. Nearly 190,000 votes were cast in the district during the April 7 presidential primary in the district. Governor Tony Evers has cited the rural makeup of the 7th District, and likely shorter lines at polls, as a reason he felt comfortable keeping the special election in place. Still, he told reporters on Monday that he’ll define success based on the safety precautions taking place. “Success for me, it would be to have everybody, not only poll workers be protected and doing the things they need to do to be protected, but also the people that are voting” Evers said. The stretch has been exhausting for local officials, who have been tasked with administering back-to-back elections with large increases in mail voting. “We’re not even done with this other one, we had to wait a whole week before we could finish up elections and get results,” Rhineland City Clerk Valerie Foley told CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro. “So it’s hard on the officials, the clerks, it’s hard on everybody.”
AND THE NOMINEES ARE…
The Libertarian National Committee decided they will nominate their official presidential ticket on May 22 through an online session, reports CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro. The party has also scheduled an in-person convention in Orlando from July 8 through July 12, which will be at a venue “with enough contiguous space to provide for personal distancing.” Congressman Justin Amash, a Republican turned Independent and now Libertarian, is the most well-known candidate for the party. Amash announced his exploratory committee in late April, and went head-to-head with four other Libertarian candidates in a debate Saturday night. Among the topics discussed include efforts to help down ballot Libertarian candidates, the government response to COVID-19 and abortion. Amash was also asked about his Congressional campaign website still being up, and he responded that he’s not planning to going back to that campaign. During the debate Amash, who currently represents Michigan’s 3rd district, also called out Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders, saying “it doesn’t make sense to have a one-size-fits-all approach.” “We need to make sure that we’re restoring power to the people, that the people make the decisions. That we don’t have a government telling us exactly how to manage every situation,” he said.
IN THE HOUSE
In California’s 25th district special election, Republicans were outraged throughout the weekend after the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder announced a new voting center in Lancaster, California, after a request by the Republican Mayor R. Rex Parris and the Los Angeles Democratic Party. A memo was sent out to all House Republicans Saturday morning by National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Emmer, asking members to help with “raising hell” about the new center. In the memo, Republicans argued the center is not necessary due to registered voters already being mailed a ballot that it was an attempt to “steal” the election because of the Democratic support in the area. Democrats have defended the move, pointing to the support from Parris and that the resource the center provides is for voters in a diverse district to drop off their mail ballots, request a new one or register to vote. In the end, the new voting center may not make a notable impact, Political Data Inc. Vice President Paul Mitchell told CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro. “This is a tempest in a teapot in the middle of a desert during a pandemic,” he said. Republican candidate Mark Garcia currently leads Democrat Christy Smith in early ballot returns by over 10,500 votes. Mr. Trump and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Emmer were still vexed about the issue Monday morning. Emmer appeared on Fox News to criticize the new center, and Trump Tweeted in support of Garcia. “Dems are trying to steal the Mike Garcia Congressional Race in California. Republicans, get out and VOTE for your terrific candidate, ASAP!” Smith, who has received some last minute social media pushes from Senator Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar, responded by criticizing Mr. Trump’s pandemic response. “Mr. Pres, Put on a face covering and do your job. Where are the tests? Why did you hide the CDC recos? What’s your PLAN to help families and businesses recover? America is coming for you at the ballot box in November, starting with #CA25,” she tweeted. California’s 25th and Wisconsin’s 7th districts have their elections Tuesday, though fuller results could come throughout the week due to the sheer amount of absentee ballots.
Republican Senator Ben Sasse’s reelection campaign aired an ad Monday morning highlighting a tweet from President Trump criticizing him, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson. In the ad, the narrator says that Sasse’s independent thinking has ticked off everyone from “the radical left to every now and then, even the president of his own party.” The ad showcases a tweet from Mr. Trump in 2016 that says, @BenSasse looks more like a gym rat than a U.S. Senator. How the hell did he ever get elected?” Sasse was critical of then candidate Trump in 2016 but has since earned the endorsement of Mr. Trump in a tweet in 2019. The ad finishes by touting Sasse as “Conservative. Independent. Straight-Shooter.” The Cook Political Report rates Sasse’s seat as “Solid Republican.”