• The fight to define Harris is on. And for now, Republicans are dominating Democrats on the airwaves
    on July 24, 2024 at 11:18 pm

    NEW YORK (AP) — Just days into her new role as the Democratic Party’s likely presidential nominee, Kamala Harris is already facing a wave of Republican-backed attack ads questioning her personality, her progressive record and what she knew about President Joe Biden’s decline. But for now, at least, Democrats have yet to engage in the summertime advertising fight. And in a sharp reversal from much of the year, Republicans are suddenly dominating the airways. Overall, Trump and his allies are outspending Harris’ team 25-to-1 on television and radio advertising — more than $68 million for Republicans compared to just $2.6 million for Democrats — in the period that began on Monday, the day after Biden stepped aside, through the end of August, according to an AP analysis of data compiled by the media tracking firm AdImpact. The stunning disparity reflects actual spending for this week and reservations for subsequent weeks, which will almost certainly change in the coming days. But for now, the numbers highlight a dangerous imbalance for Democrats at the very moment that millions of voters are re-shaping their opinions of the vice president, who has spent much of the last four years in Biden’s shadow. Some Harris allies are already sounding the alarm. “Public opinion is like cement. It’s soft at first and then it hardens,” said Sarah Longwell, co-founder of Republican Voters Against Trump. “The next three weeks are definitive. She needs to define herself before Trump defines her.” The Harris campaign had no immediate comment. To be sure, Harris only earned Biden’s endorsement on Sunday. And in the days since, friends and foes agree that she’s benefited from a flood of so-called “earned” news media coverage, much of it positive. Trump pollster Tony Fabrizio described it as “Harris’ honeymoon” in a memo on Tuesday that predicted a surge in the polls for the Democratic vice president. Meanwhile, Harris’ team has the money to launch a robust advertising campaign whenever it wants to. Her campaign raised a jaw-dropping $100 million between Sunday afternoon as of Monday night alone. And allies, led by the super PAC Future Forward, received donor commitments of $150 million in the first 24 hours after Biden left the race. “Obviously, advertising is important and will pick up, but it’s not the only factor,” said Democratic strategist Josh Schwerin. “With Harris taking over as the presumptive nominee, she’s getting wall-to-wall largely positive coverage. … You always need to take in the context of the entire media ecosystem.” Still, some of the Harris attack ads may be beginning to shape the narrative. Biden allies privately raised concerns about a new ad from Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Dave McCormick that describes Harris as “the most liberal nominee ever.” The ad highlights her progressive positions on immigration, policing, energy and health care. It ends with audio of Harris’ loud laugh, which has been a frequent Republican focus. Trump’s campaign has been largely silent on the airwaves since he emerged as his party’s presumptive presidential nominee this spring. The delay in ad spending reflected, in part, the former president’s financial challenges following an expensive primary and overwhelming legal bills. Backed by allied super PACs that are running tens of millions in ads this summer, however, the Trump campaign can also afford to wait until more voters are paying attention this fall to pour money into advertising. The pro-Trump Preserve America super PAC, backed by casino magnate Miriam Adelson, has reserved $45 million worth of advertising through the end of August. MAGA Inc. has booked another $23 million. Democrats, meanwhile, just halted its advertising spending after devoting enormous sums to boost Biden in the weeks and months before he dropped out. Overall, Biden’s campaign spent more than $138 million on advertising between Jan. 1 of this year through Sunday, when he announced his decision to step aside. While much of the advertising went after Trump, the ads also featured Biden, who is no longer a candidate and largely viewed as a political liability for Harris. It is only a matter of time, days perhaps, before Harris and her allies ramp up their advertising plans. While AdImpact found only about $2.6 million in Democratic-backed ad reservations through the end of August, the pro-Biden super PAC Future Forward is set to begin rolling out a $129 million advertising campaign in September. But for now, voters are only seeing presidential ads that knock Harris. One of them, from MAGA Inc., blames the vice president for “a border invasion, runaway inflation,” and the death of the American dream. “Kamala knew Joe couldn’t do the job, so she did it,” says the narrator in the spot that started running Sunday across Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona. “They created this mess. They — no, Kamala — owns this failed record.” Brought to you by www.srnnews.com

  • Biden uses Oval Office address to explain his decision to quit 2024 race, begins to shape legacy
    on July 24, 2024 at 11:18 pm

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Insisting that “the defense of democracy is more important than any title,” President Joe Biden on Wednesday will explain in an Oval Office address his decision to drop his bid for reelection and to throw his support behind Vice President Kamala Harris. The address offered the public their first chance to hear directly from Biden his rationale for dropping out of the 2024 after weeks of insisting he believed himself to be the best candidate to take on former President Donald Trump, whom he has called an existential threat to the nation’s democracy. It also gave Biden a chance to try to shape how history views his one and only term in office. “The defense of democracy is more important than any title,” Biden said. “Nothing, nothing can come in the way of saving our democracy. And that includes personal ambition.” Said Biden, “I revere this office, but I love my country more.” Biden’s candidacy faced a crisis of confidence from Democrats after his abysmal debate against Trump nearly a month ago, where he spoke haltingly, appeared ashen and failed to rebut his predecessor’s attacks. It sparked a mutiny within his party over not just whether he was capable of beating Trump in November, but also whether at 81, he was still fit for the high-pressure job. Biden tried to outlast the skepticism and quell the concerns with interviews and tepid rallies, but the pressure to step aside only mounted from the party’s political elites and from ordinary voters. On Sunday afternoon, while isolating at his Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, home with COVID-19, Biden finally bowed in a letter posted to his account on X announcing his decision to leave the race, followed up later by an endorsement of Harris. “I have decided the best way forward is to pass the torch to a new generation,” Biden said, saying he wanted to make room for “fresh voices, yes, younger voices.” He added, “That is the best way to unite our nation.” Biden’s address was being carried by the major broadcast and cable news networks. He pledge to remain focused on being president until his term expires at noon on Jan. 20, 2025, saying he would work to end the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, fight to boost government support to cure cancer, and call for Supreme Court reform. The president was hoping to use the address to outline the stakes in the election, which both Biden and Harris have framed as a choice between freedom and chaos, but he tried to steer clear of overt campaigning from his official office and never mentioned Trump by name. “The great thing about America is here, kings and dictators do not rule,” Biden said. “The people do. History is in your hands. The power is in your hands. The idea of America — lies in your hands.” Biden was also looking to make the case for his legacy of sweeping domestic legislation and the renewal of alliances abroad. The way history will remember his time in office and his historic decision to step aside is intertwined with Harris’ electoral result in November, particularly as the vice president runs tightly on the achievements of the Biden administration. His advisers say he intends to hold campaign events and fundraisers benefiting Harris, albeit at a far slower pace than if he had remained on the ballot himself. Harris advisers will ultimately have to decide how to deploy the president, whose popularity sagged as voters in both parties questioned his fitness for office. Biden, aides say, knows that if Harris loses, he’ll be criticized for staying in the race too long and not giving her or another Democrat time to effectively mount a campaign against Trump. If she wins, she’ll ensure his policy victories are secured and expanded, and he’ll be remembered for a Washingtonian decision to step aside for the next generation of leadership. Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Wednesday that any question of Biden resigning his office — which would allow Harris to run as an incumbent — was “ridiculous.” Jean-Pierre said Biden has “no regrets” about his decision to stay in the race as long as he did, or his decision to quit it over the weekend. She said Biden’s decision had nothing to do with his health. Brought to you by www.srnnews.com

  • Acting Secret Service director to testify before Senate committees
    on July 24, 2024 at 10:31 pm

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The acting director of the U.S. Secret Service will testify before three Senate committees on Thursday in the aftermath of the attempted assassination of former President Donald Trump, the committees announced on Wednesday. The deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation will also testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is holding a hearing in partnership with the Senate Homeland Security Committee and the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. Kimberly Cheatle resigned as director of the U.S. Secret Service on Tuesday after bipartisan demands to quit over the failure to prevent the attempted assassination. Ronald L. Rowe, Jr. replaced her as acting director. (Reporting by Jasper Ward; Editing by Mary Milliken) Brought to you by www.srnnews.com

  • Wildfire smoke chokes parts of Canada and western US, with some areas under air quality alerts
    on July 24, 2024 at 10:18 pm

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Fires burning in California, Oregon, Arizona, Washington and other western states, as well as Canada, have filled the skies in regions of the western U.S. with smoke and haze, forcing some affected areas to declare air quality alerts or advisories. As of Wednesday morning, there were 79 large active wildfires across the country being managed that have burned 1,431,460 acres (579,292 hectares), according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Evacuation orders are in effect for 15 fires in the Northwest, where fires continue to show active to extreme behavior. Communities near several fires in California, the Northern Rockies and the Great Basin are also under evacuation orders. Oregon has 31 large active fires that have burned 791,653 acres (320,371 hectares). The Durkee Fire, the largest active blaze in the U.S., was burning near the Oregon-Idaho border and was 0% contained as of Wednesday morning and had burned nearly 400 square miles (1,036 square kilometers). The Cow Valley, Falls and Lone Rock fires, the next largest, have collectively seared some 404,404 acres (163,657 hectares). There are 12 active large wildfires in both California and Arizona. In the Golden State, the Lake Fire in Santa Barbara has scorched 38,664 acres (15,647 hectares) and was 90% contained; the 2024 SQF Lightning Complex in Tulare has burned 31,309 acres (12,670 hectares) and was 7% contained; and the Shelly Fire in Siskiyou County that’s charred 15,656 acres (6,336 hectares) was 62% contained. Hot, dry and windy conditions have increase fire activity in some areas, including the Hill Fire in northern California. The Black Fire east of Phoenix is the largest in Arizona, followed by the Romero Fire west of Dudleyville. The Pioneer Fire in Washington is the largest in the state at 30,667 acres (12,410.5 hectares). In Montana, the Deadman Fire in Rosebud County grew to 19,982 acres (8,086 hectares) and was 95% contained. In Canada, there are about 430 active wildfires in British Columbia and 177 in neighboring Alberta, including two that led to the evacuation of up to 25,000 visitors and residents of Canadian Rockies’ largest national park. Fuels and fire behavior advisories were in effect for California, Nevada, Southeast and Central Oregon, Southern Idaho and the Utah and Arizona Strip. Unhealthy air pollution from wildfires have triggered air quality alerts and advisories in regions of the western U.S. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued air quality alerts for the eastern counties of Harney, Malheur, Grant, Baker and Morrow until further notice. Unhealthy air was reported in cities of Bend and La Pine today and forecaster for tomorrow, with smoke expected to continue degrading air quality in La Pine after Thursday. Smoke from the Durkee Fire was choking the air in Boise, Idaho and beyond. An air quality warning was in effect for the entire region on Wednesday. In Idaho, air quality advisories were sent out to the central counties of Ada, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette and Washington. In north central Washington, the Colville Reservation, all of Chelan County, plus the Methow Valley down to Brewster in Okanogan County were under air quality alerts until further notice. And in Canada, authorities issued an air quality advisory for Calgary, Alberta due to the wildfire smoke. The government agency called it high risk and said children and the elderly should avoid outdoor physical exertion. Wildfire smoke can cause unhealthy air quality in areas many miles away from fires. To stay safe, the South Coast Air Quality Management District recommends people start by learning about air quality conditions and forecasts in their area. Those with an air conditioning system should change filters often, with high-efficiency filters labeled “MERV13” or higher being the most effective at removing smoke particles. Portable HEPA air purifiers also help. To limit exposure to unhealthy air quality, people should stay indoors with windows and doors closed. Avoid heavy exertion outdoors, using fans or swamp coolers that take air from outside, all wood-burning appliances, and lighting candles and incense. If you need to be outside in smoky conditions, a respirator mask such as an N-95 or P-100 can offer some protection. Lastly, know your risks. Some people, such as children and those with heart or lung issues, can be more sensitive to moderate to unhealthy air quality. When cleaning ash after a wildfire, wear goggles and a snug a respirator mask such as an N-95 or P-100. Avoid skin contact with ash by wearing gloves, closed-toe shoes, socks and long pants and shirts. Wash ash from pets and outdoor belonging like cars and toys. Mist floors with water and gently sweep or mop, then collect ash in plastic bags and throw it out. Don’t use leaf blowers. Keep water with ash away from storm drains. And clean inside with a vacuum that has disposable filter bags. ___ AP writer Rob Gillies contributed from Toronto. Brought to you by www.srnnews.com

  • 2 more state troopers who were part of the Karen Read case are under investigation, police say
    on July 24, 2024 at 10:18 pm

    BOSTON (AP) — Two more state troopers, who testified in the Karen Read murder trial over the death of her Boston police officer boyfriend, are now facing an internal affairs investigation, the Massachusetts State Police said Wednesday. Detective Lt. Brian Tully and Sgt. Yuri Bukhenik are being investigated along with lead investigator in the case, State Trooper Michael Proctor. It was also determined that there was insufficient evidence against a fourth state trooper, Lt. John Fanning, to prove allegations he violated state police rules by failing to uphold the responsibilities of a supervisor. A spokesperson for the Massachusetts State Police refused to comment further “in fairness to the integrity of the pending investigative outcomes.” Most of the focus has been on Proctor, who was relieved of duty after the trial revealed he’d sent vulgar texts to colleagues and family, calling Read a “whack job” and telling his sister he wished Read would “kill herself.” He said that was a figure of speech and that his emotions had gotten the better of him. The defense also suggested he should’ve stepped aside from the investigation because he had personal relationships with several of the people involved in the case. Read’s lawyers also questioned the sloppiness of the police work: The crime scene was left unsecured for hours; the house, owned by Boston Police Detective Brian Albert, wasn’t searched; bloodstained snow was scooped up with red plastic drinking cups; and a leaf blower was used to clear snow. Proctor was paid until earlier this month, when a state police hearing board changed that suspension to without pay, effective immediately. Meanwhile, an internal affairs investigation could result in charges against him, and there’s a federal probe into state law enforcement’s handling of the case. The U.S. attorney’s office said it neither confirmed nor denied investigations. Read is accused of ramming into John O’Keefe with her SUV and leaving him for dead in a snowstorm in January 2022. Her two-month trial ended when jurors declared they were hopelessly deadlocked and a judge declared a mistrial on the fifth day of deliberations. The judge announced Monday she will hear oral arguments on a defense motion to dismiss two of the three charges against her on Aug. 9, and a retrial was scheduled for Jan. 27. Brought to you by www.srnnews.com