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Trump trails by 14, while Fauci issues a virus warning. It’s Wednesday, and this is your tip sheet.
Where things stand
Joe Biden leads President Trump by 14 percentage points, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll released this morning. Our first national survey of this election season shows just how steeply Trump will have to climb on his path to re-election.
The president has been generally unpopular throughout almost his entire term, and his handling of the coronavirus pandemic has only deepened voters’ distrust. Fifty-eight percent of registered voters said in the poll that they disapproved of his handling of the outbreak, while just 38 percent approved. His marks were even worse on the question of how he was handling race relations.
In the presidential matchup, Biden either leads or runs even with the president in nearly every major subgroup, and he has opened up a wide advantage among various groups of voters that were more evenly split in 2016, such as independents and college-educated white women. Even among men and white voters overall, demographics usually at the center of any Republican victory, Biden is about even with Trump.
While most voters tend to either strongly like or dislike the president — and by about two to one, it’s usually the latter — views of Biden are much less extreme.
A major Senate primary took place in Kentucky yesterday, but we probably won’t have complete results for another week. Amy McGrath, a centrist Democrat who has fund-raised prodigiously on the promise that she could unseat Mitch McConnell, is facing off against Charles Booker, a progressive state legislator who has channeled the grass-roots spirit of the moment into an 11th-hour surge.
Some precincts have reported preliminary results, but an outsize share of primary voters cast absentee ballots because of fears of the pandemic. Kentucky’s Democratic Party chair issued a statement saying, “We won’t fully know the results of today’s primary until June 30.”
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez easily won a Democratic primary in New York, while Representative Eliot Engel, a 30-year incumbent, sought to beat back a challenge from Jamaal Bowman, a middle school principal whose progressive campaign had the backing of many leaders on the left. In that race and many others across the state, final results were not yet available.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said he was bothered by the “disturbing surge” in coronavirus cases, telling Congress on Tuesday that more action was needed to control its spread. Though he was characteristically careful not to assign blame, Fauci again warned about the dangers of reopening too quickly and relaxing social-distancing practices.
“The virus is not going to disappear,” Fauci told the House Energy and Commerce Committee, in a tacit rebuke of Trump’s suggestion that the virus could “fade away” in the summer. He also reaffirmed that the federal government plans to increase virus testing, despite the president’s complaints that tests are helping to drive up the number of reported cases. “To my knowledge, none of us have ever been told to slow down on testing,” Fauci said. “In fact, we will be doing more testing.”
The assistant secretary for public health, Adm. Brett P. Giroir, echoed Fauci’s concern. “I am very cautious and I don’t — still don’t sleep well at night,” he said.
The Senate has a test vote planned for today on criminal-justice legislation put forth by its Republican leaders — but Senate Democrats plan to block it. They called the bill “woefully inadequate” yesterday, arguing it was a weak alternative to the more ambitious bill currently headed to a vote in the House.
A failure in the Senate vote could fatally slow the bill’s momentum, as the chamber will adjourn for the summer ahead of the July 4 holiday. Democrats appear willing to bet that voters prefer no deal to a weakened compromise. “The Republican majority has given the Senate a bad bill and proposed no credible way to sufficiently improve it,” Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, said on Tuesday, with an air of finality.
A voter looked for an empty station at the single polling place in Louisville, Ky.
Will Pompeo drastically change the United States’ approach to international human rights?
Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, established an advisory panel at the State Department last year charged with reworking the United States’ approach to human rights.
To run it, he tapped Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard professor and former ambassador to the Vatican known for her conservative views. And in public statements, he made clear that he was confident the panel would produce a document centered on the idea of safeguarding religious freedom — which is often used as a cudgel against calls for L.G.B.T.Q. and women’s rights.
The panel is set to release its report next month. Pranshu Verma took a look into what human-rights advocates are expecting. Then he answered a few questions specifically for us.
Hi, Pranshu. First of all, set the stage for us. What role has the State Department historically played in promoting human rights around the world? Are there certain core principles that have tended to guide it in this pursuit through the years?
The State Department has been active in every major human-rights conversation since the late 1940s. The core principle it has adhered to for decades has been that all human rights are created equal. Scholars call this a “universalist” approach. It differs from a “relativist” approach, which argues some rights should be valued more than others. Proponents of a universalist approach argue there cannot be competition among human rights. The right to vote must be equally valued as the right to speech.
Last year, Mike Pompeo announced that he would create a first-of-its-kind advisory panel to re-evaluate how the department defines human rights. What’s this all about, and how has he gone about it?
It’s no secret Pompeo is religious. This panel he created is tasked with creating a new vision for human-rights policy. In a number of speeches, he has praised the commission and assured his allies it will uphold religious freedom as America’s most important value.
Academics who have tracked the public commission meetings have spoken out about them. Many of the panel’s members, handpicked by Pompeo’s staff, have strong views against same-sex marriage and reproductive rights. In these meetings they have discussed the importance of “family values,” “natural law,” and other coded terms used in fights to roll back rights for women and L.G.B.T.Q. people.
Many diplomats, advocates and human-rights experts think this report is a tool Pompeo can use to court the Christian conservative vote if he seeks public office in the future.
Pompeo had already taken other steps as secretary of state to limit how much the United States advocates for L.G.B.T.Q. rights — often arguing that promoting these rights goes against notions of “religious liberty.” How does this fit into that pattern?
This panel fits right into Pompeo’s wheelhouse. Say a Christian doctor refuses to perform an abortion for religious reasons, who wins out? The doctor, or the woman? Pompeo’s “relativist” approach to human rights, where religion is America’s most fundamental freedom, would provide strength to the doctor’s position. It’s scenarios like that which have human-rights scholars, former diplomats and State Department officials worried.
There’s no shortage of repressive governments across the world looking to use the “relativist” human-rights approach to narrowly define the concept to their benefit. If America produces a document doing that, it’s harder to persuade a country like Iran, China or Saudi Arabia to do any different.
A report from the advisory panel is expected as early as next week. Do human-rights advocates have a sense of what they’re expecting — both in terms of its contents, and its broader implications for U.S. foreign policy?
Many think the report’s outcome is preordained, though now that the commission is getting significant attention from the press, critics wouldn’t be surprised if the document is watered down slightly. But if it does prioritize religious liberty as America’s most fundamental freedom, it could upend diplomatic efforts to stop countries who persecute same-sex couples or deny women access to reproductive health care on the basis of religion.
NEW YORK TIMES EVENTS
How to raise a socially conscious, antiracist child
With race, equality and empowerment dominating the national conversation, helping kids navigate today’s complex world can be a formidable challenge. How can parents teach why diversity, equity and critical thinking matter? How should privilege be addressed? And how do you use childhood curiosity to develop empathy?
Join us today at 3 p.m. Eastern time to hear the perspective of Amber Coleman-Mortley, director of social engagement for iCivics, a nonprofit focused on improving civics education for children. She will be in conversation with our own Tara Parker-Pope, the founding editor of Well.