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Biden’s Media Strategy: Duck The Press Unless You’re Under Duress

Biden’s Media Strategy: Duck The Press Unless You’re Under DuressBloomberg via GettyThe first time former Vice President Joe Biden spoke to national media reporters in nearly a week of campaigning was to address a political minicrisis of his own making.On Wednesday evening, hours after Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) had admonished him for fondly recalling the collegiality of segregationist senators of the ’70s, the former vice president was asked if he would apologize. “Apologize for what? Cory should apologize, he knows better,” Biden responded, standing outside an SUV on his way into a fundraiser. “There’s not a racist bone in my body, I’ve been involved with civil rights my whole career. Period. Period. Period.”The moment marked a new level of aggression in a still-nascent Democratic primary. It also put the spotlight on what Democratic officials say is a risky and often confusing campaign blueprint being deployed by the party’s presidential frontrunner. Increasingly, Biden seems to speak publicly or talk with reporters only when he is under duress. “It is not a tenable strategy,” said David Axelrod, who worked with Biden as the top communications adviser on the 2008 campaign, and in the Obama White House. “His message is that he’s the guy who can beat Donald Trump and he is viewed as the least risky choice. Over time, if the only interactions he has is around these screwups and gaffes, then he is going to start losing that message.” Booker, Harris, Warren Tee Off on Biden for His Nostalgia for Segregationist SenatorsOver the past few weeks, Biden has been forced to grapple with a number of minicontroversies and self-inflicted wounds. His nostalgia for former Sens. James O. Eastland (D-MS) and Herman E. Talmadge (D-GA) was preceded by a 24-hour flip-flop on a law banning federal funds from funding abortion (Biden went from supporting the Hyde amendment to opposing it). Those two instances came after Biden was criticized for not offering a full apology to Anita Hill and for humorously dismissing accusations that he made women uncomfortable by invading their space. Virtually every candidate running for president has to clean up the messes he or she makes. That’s especially true for the frontrunners and those who, like Biden, have a proclivity for speaking with limited filters. But what makes Biden’s current approach so confusing for other Democrats is that much of his public-facing campaigning has involved doing only that. Elsewhere, the former vice president has kept a notably low profile, taking little opportunity to push his larger campaign message or make proactive defenses of his political baggage.Biden hasn’t appeared on national television since the day after he officially declared his run for president. Since then, the campaign has repeatedly declined invitations from television and cable news outlets. One network source told The Daily Beast that over the past several months, Biden has been offered a number of appearances on MSNBC, including telephone interviews. And a CNN insider said the network reached out to the former vice president in the months before he even launched his campaign, inquiring whether he would be interested in participating in upcoming town hall events.In addition to missing many of the forums packed with 2020 Democratic prospects, Biden was the only 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to decline an interview by The New York Times as part of its package this week comparing the various candidates (and wouldn’t respond to questions when asked why he didn’t participate).“I think that it is never a good idea to sit on a lead. That rarely works out well, and that's what they’re doing,” said Axelrod.While in South Carolina this weekend, Biden worked the rope line well into the evening, mingling with press and voters, but his campaign has previously restricted press access, running the vice president’s press availabilities in a vastly different manner from the rest of the candidates. Biden’s campaign has at points sealed off the press at events, only allowing a single reporter to represent the campaign press pool at Biden fundraising events. Occasionally, the Biden campaign has even seemed to forget or reverse course on planned media appearances. Earlier this month, the former vice president’s staff told campaign reporters that he was going to be holding a press gaggle following an event in New Hampshire. But reporters were left hanging when Biden left the event and got into a waiting SUV without taking questions. For communications specialists, the reticence seems not just at odds with the realities of modern media, but also unwise, leaving the impression that Biden—who has a reputation for joviality—is almost afraid of the scrutiny. “If you are only interacting with the press when there is an issue of concern, you reinforce that perception that there are only problems,” said longtime Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis, who runs Park Street Strategies. “You're in a turtle mode instead of being proactive about what you’re pushing out.”Biden’s defenders argue that the reason that he appears to interact with the press during times of duress is largely because those episodes are over-emphasized by the media itself. They point to polling data showing his consistent lead in the primary as evidence that the national press corps has fundamentally different priorities than the Democratic electorate. The campaign has created its media strategy around that theory as well. Instead of doing national interviews, they have focused the vast majority of their attention on smaller local news outlets in the early primary states. Since jumping into the race in April, Biden has sat down for at least a dozen interviews with local TV and radio stations in Iowa and New Hampshire.Biden hasn’t been entirely closed off from national outlets. His campaign is the only one in the primary that allows a print pooler into his fundraising events. And on Thursday, senior Biden adviser Symone Sanders told CNN that the former VP would be sitting down for an interview this weekend. Sources told The Daily Beast that Biden would likely be one of several candidates sitting down with host Al Sharpton at an event for 2020 presidential contenders in South Carolina that MSNBC has exclusive rights to broadcast. Nevertheless, Biden’s caution when dealing with the press has stood out in a field of candidates where many others seem willing to accept any media request or live-streaming opportunity. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) has been comfortable enough with campaign reporters to invite them on jogging outings, while South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is so willing to sit for interviews he took questions while drinking brown-bagged beer in a park in New York City.Campaign veterans say it would be unwise for Biden to go to those extremes, and not just because of his history of saying things that cause him political headaches. According to their logic, the former VP is already well known to the public and instead of re-introducing himself to voters, he can afford to spend that time on other campaign functions. The question now being asked of the Biden campaign is not just whether they took that theory too far but whether he could actually maneuver through the current media landscape if he tried. “You are not in the Hyde amendment era in the Democratic Party, and you are not in the James O. Eastland era of the party,” said James Carville, a longtime Democratic operative. “How can you have the give and take [with the press] when your instinct is to get on the wrong side of two great issues of the modern Democratic Party, and that’s abortion and racial relations? The world has changed.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.



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Strait of Hormuz: key waterway under pressure

Strait of Hormuz: key waterway under pressureThe Strait of Hormuz, located in the area where Iran shot down a US military drone, is a strategically important waterway for the world’s oil transits, which lies at the heart of regional tensions. Iran warned on Friday it would “decisively defend its territory” against eventual US retaliation, while the airlines KLM, Lufthansa, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas and Singapore Airlines said they were suspending flights over the strait. The Strait of Hormuz links the Gulf to the Gulf of Oman and is situated between Iran and Oman.



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Venezuela opposition leader Juan Guaido under pressure over alleged misappropriation of aid funds

Venezuela opposition leader Juan Guaido under pressure over alleged misappropriation of aid fundsVenezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has launched an investigation after two members of his team allegedly stole money destined to help deserting Venezuelans soldiers in Colombia. The pair, Kevin Rojas and Rossana Barrera – sister-in-law of opposition politician Sergio Vergara, Mr Guaido’s right-hand man – are accused of taking the money designated for supporting Venezuelans in the Colombian border town of Cucuta and blowing it on hotels, clubs, designer clothes and cars. A failed attempt to get humanitarian aid into the country on February 23 saw more than 40 soldiers abandon President Nicolas Maduro and swear allegiance to his rival, Mr Maduro. Within three days, that number had swollen to 270 and Mr Guaido, in Cucuta to try and push the aid into Venezuela, praised the deserting soldiers as heroes. He officially designated Mr Rojas and Ms Barrera with the task of caring for the soldiers, who had defected at enormous risk to themselves and their families. Yet Colombian police became suspicious when Mr Rojas and Ms Barrera began living a lavish lifestyle and burning through money. Colombia's President Ivan Duque, left, greets Venezuelan soldiers who defected as he visits the border area near Cucuta on February 23 In one night alone, according to the PanAm Post, they spent over three million Colombian pesos (£700) in a nightclub and hotel. Ms Barrera, the website reported, told Mr Guaido’s team in Caracas that she was paying for seven hotels in Cucuta, used to house the soldiers. Yet in reality she was only paying for two; the other five hotels were paid for by Colombia’s government and the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR. She also claimed there were 1,450 soldiers in her care; in reality the figure was 700. In mid May Ms Barreras, using a false email, invited members of the Bogota diplomatic elite to a fundraiser at the exclusive Pajares Salina restaurant in the city. She said the event was organised by Mr Guaido’s appointed “ambassador” to Colombia, Humberto Calderon Berti. The fundraiser was cancelled when Mr Calderon’s team alerted other diplomatic missions in Bogota that they were not behind the event. Aerial picture showing smoke billowing from trucks which were carrying humanitarian aid and which were set ablaze on the Francisco de Paula Santander International Bridge between Cucuta in Colombia (left) and Urena (right) in Venezuela, on February 23 Colombian authorities are said to have caught on to the excessive spending and misappropriation of funds and alerted Mr Guaido and fellow Popular Will leader Leopoldo Lopez, but reportedly received no response. Finally, on May 27 Mr Calderon’s team called a meeting in Cucuta, and asked Ms Barrera to show her accounts. She informed them she had spent $ 100,000 (£80,000), but was unable to provide substantial receipts, the website claimed. On Monday Mr Guaido said there would be a full investigation. "Dictatorships cover up corruption," he tweeted. "We don't." Ms Barrera and Mr Rojas are believed to still be in Colombia. He announced that he was appointing Lester Toledo, coordinator of the humanitarian aid, to oversee the inquiry. Juan Guaido stands on a lorry carrying humanitarian aid in Cucuta on February 23. It failed to pass the border “We are fulfilling our promise regarding humanitarian aid with firmness and transparency,” he said. “I’ve told Lester Toledo to head an investigation into Colombia and provide a statement to all the press and international allies.” Mr Toledo on Tuesday demanded prison sentences for those found guilty of corruption, saying they had asked the Colombian attorney general to open an investigation. He also insisted that the $ 213 million (£169m) in aid sent by the United States was managed directly by Washington, and had never entered Mr Guaido’s hands. The scandal has dealt a serious blow to Mr Guaido’s team, however, and has been seized upon by Mr Maduro. A recent poll by opposition-aligned Datincorp found only 36 per cent of Venezuelans recognise Mr Guaido as head of state, down from 49 per cent in February. Mr Maduro, whom Mr Guaido has repeatedly vowed to remove from office, has seen his recognition increase from 34 per cent in February to 41 per cent in June. He has been quick to highlight the alleged opposition theft, saying it shows Mr Guaido's camp cannot be trusted. "Corruption isn't new in the opposition," he said. "The evidence is coming out."



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Biden under fire for recalling 'civility' with racist senators

Biden under fire for recalling 'civility' with racist senatorsJoe Biden drew condemnation Wednesday from fellow Democratic presidential contenders and demands for an apology after he defended his old-fashioned political style by recalling the “civility” with which he treated two segregationist US senators. Speaking at a New York fundraiser Tuesday, the ex-vice president and frontrunner for the Democratic nomination told donors that fixing America’s “broken” political system would require working across the political aisle to reach consensus with lawmakers with opposing positions, even unrepentant bigots. Biden, who spent more than three decades in the US Senate, named late senators James Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia, both Democrats who fiercely opposed desegregation, as opponents who were in his own party when he entered the chamber in 1973.



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Illinois child welfare system under fire after boy's death

Illinois child welfare system under fire after boy's deathCHICAGO (AP) — Disturbing details emerged Thursday of the torture authorities say preceded the beating death of a 5-year-old Illinois boy who had extensive contact with child welfare workers, escalating scrutiny of a state agency already being reviewed because of the recent deaths of two other children.



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Rep. Ilhan Omar under fire for 9/11 remark

Rep. Ilhan Omar under fire for 9/11 remarkDemocrats rushing to Omar's defense; reaction and analysis on 'The Five.'



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AOC on Trump's claim his taxes are under audit: 'We didn't ask you'

AOC on Trump's claim his taxes are under audit: 'We didn't ask you'Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sounds off on the president's claim that his taxes are "under audit."



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UK's May under pressure to rule out long Brexit delay

UK's May under pressure to rule out long Brexit delayBritish Prime Minister Theresa May is facing a new push by members of her Conservative Party to lead Britain out of the European Union in the next few months, even if it means a potentially damaging no-deal Brexit. Conservative lawmakers urged May against a long extension of the Brexit process in a letter sent after her exit deal was rejected for a third time by the House of Commons on Friday, a lawmaker said. The Sun newspaper said the letter was signed by 170 of the 314 Conservative lawmakers in parliament, including 10 cabinet ministers, heaping more pressure on May, who has offered to resign if she can get her Brexit deal through parliament.



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UK's May under pressure to rule out long Brexit delay: report

UK's May under pressure to rule out long Brexit delay: reportBritish Prime Minister Theresa May is under growing pressure from within her Conservative Party to lead Britain out of the European Union in the next few months, even if it means a no-deal Brexit, The Sun newspaper reported. A letter signed by 170 of the 314 Conservative lawmakers in parliament, including 10 cabinet ministers, was sent to May after her Brexit deal was rejected for a third time by the House of Commons on Friday, the newspaper reported. The vote left Britain’s withdrawal from the EU in turmoil on the day that the country was originally due to leave the bloc.



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As Border Crossings Rise, Migrants Held in Makeshift Detention Center Under a Texas Bridge

As Border Crossings Rise, Migrants Held in Makeshift Detention Center Under a Texas BridgeIn El Paso, Texas, a migrant detention center has was constructed under the Paso Del Norte Bridge.



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