Trump’s Act V continues to play out in Georgia, while Biden names another key member of his health policy team. It’s Monday, and this is your politics tip sheet. Sign up here to get On Politics in your inbox every weekday.
Where things stand
There are now 44 days until the 45th president leaves the Oval Office. But he still has not accepted his fate.
Visiting Georgia on Saturday for his first rally since losing the presidential election last month, President Trump used a rambling, 100-minute speech to dispute the outcome and called on Brian Kemp, the state’s Republican governor, to overturn the results.
“Your governor could stop it very easily if he knew what the hell he was doing,” Trump told the crowd in Valdosta, Ga., on Saturday. “Stop it very easily.”
Trump’s visit was purportedly meant to drum up support for the state’s two Republican senators, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who are facing runoff elections next month, but he spent markedly less time talking them up than he did complaining about the results of his own re-election bid.
He had called Kemp on the phone earlier in the day, pressuring the governor to call the state legislature into session so that its Republican majorities could appoint new electors. In Trump’s estimation, they could then deliver him the state’s 16 electoral votes when the Electoral College convenes next week.
But last night Kemp made it clear that he doesn’t intend to go along. He and Geoff Duncan, the Republican lieutenant governor, said in a joint statement that they wouldn’t convene a special legislative session to explore Trump’s claims about the election.
“State law is clear: the legislature could only direct an alternative method for choosing presidential electors if the election was not able to be held on the date set by federal law,” Kemp and Duncan said. They added that trying to “retroactively change” the election result “would be unconstitutional and immediately enjoined by the courts.”
The state has conducted two recounts, with the latest count showing Joe Biden winning by roughly 12,000 votes.
As they campaign across the state, Loeffler and Perdue have sided with Trump, even calling for Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to resign over his handling of the election (he has said he has no intention of doing so).
During a debate last night against the Rev. Raphael Warnock, her Democratic challenger, Loeffler refused to acknowledge that Trump had lost the election.
She focused on attacking Warnock as a “radical liberal” (using the phrase over a dozen times), and called him a threat to the American way of life.
Warnock criticized Loeffler for the many stock trades she made after attending a briefing on the coronavirus in January. When asked whether members of Congress should be barred from trading stocks, Loeffler did not answer directly.
Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer and the chief architect of Trump’s foundering effort to contest the election, has tested positive for the coronavirus, Trump announced yesterday on Twitter.
He offered wishes for a speedy recovery in a post that referred to the disease as “the China Virus” and to Giuliani as “by far the greatest mayor in the history of NYC.”
Giuliani, 76, was at Georgetown University Medical Center, according to a person close to the situation who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.
Biden will pick Xavier Becerra, the attorney general of California, as his nominee for secretary of health and human services, a cabinet-level position that has taken on an added importance amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Latino Democrats have voiced frustration in recent days over the lack of more Hispanic representation in the top tier of Biden’s administration. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico had been seen as the front-runner to become health secretary, but she wound up being offered — and turning down — the position of interior secretary instead.
Becerra has been known for his advocacy on immigration policy and for the Latino community, as well as criminal justice and tax policy. He does not have an extensive history working in public health, though he has developed a reputation as a fierce defender of women’s access to health care.
Representatives from a growing, bipartisan group of senators made the case for a compromise stimulus package during TV appearances on Sunday, with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle applying new pressure on Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader, to bring the bill to the floor.
Senator Bill Cassidy, Republican of Louisiana and one of the plan’s architects, said on “Fox News Sunday” that he believed both McConnell and Trump would eventually get behind the plan. He said that “one of the sticking points right now” was a provision granting some legal immunity to companies that reopen during the pandemic, with McConnell calling it essential and Democrats calling it a gratuitous blow to workers.
Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat in the centrist coalition, said he expected just a few more “days of drama” before the deal passed the chamber. “It would be stupidity on steroids if Congress doesn’t act,” Warner said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Photo of the day
Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, in Valdosta, Ga., where he held his first rally as a lame duck president on Saturday.
Vaccines are nearing approval. How willing are Americans to be vaccinated?
More Americans are telling pollsters that they intend to get a coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available, but the share saying so remains below what Dr. Anthony Fauci has said will be necessary.
A Pew Research Center poll published last week found that 60 percent of Americans said it was at least probable that they would get the vaccine. That was up from the 51 percent who said so in September, though not as high as in May, when it was 72 percent, before the president began putting increased pressure on public health officials to swiftly approve a vaccine.
Willingness to be vaccinated ran lowest among Black Americans and highest among Asian-Americans. Men were considerably more likely than women to say they would get vaccinated, and Democrats were more likely than Republicans — only half of whom said they would definitely or probably get the vaccine.
Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, has said that at least 70 percent of Americans would need to take the vaccine in order for the country to achieve herd immunity.
Essential workers are expected to be among the first in line to receive vaccinations as they become available in the weeks and months ahead. But not all are guaranteed to take them. In New York City, the fire department is set to be among the first to receive the Pfizer vaccine that recently passed clinical trials and is now awaiting F.D.A. approval.
But the department announced last week that it would not require firefighters to take the vaccine, and a survey released over the weekend conducted for the firefighters’ union found that more than half of the union’s members didn’t plan to take the vaccine when it became available to them.
This dovetails with the results of an Axios-Ipsos poll released late last month, showing that only about half of Americans were willing to take the first-generation vaccine immediately upon arrival, while the number jumped to 64 percent for a vaccine that had been around for a few months — and to 70 percent for a vaccine that had “been proven safe by public health officials.”
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