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1026d ago / 3:37 PM UTC
Seven Senate races where the Kavanaugh nomination is an issue
Now more than a week since President Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, here are seven Senate races where the nomination has become an issue in the contest.
What Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., has said: “I will take the same approach as I have previously for a Supreme Court vacancy. Following the president’s announcement, I will carefully review and consider the record and qualifications of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.”
What Republican challenger Mike Braun has said: “President Trump has chosen another outstanding justice in Brett Kavanaugh. I can immediately say without hesitation that I would support this nomination and I hope the Senate moves quickly to confirm the president's choice."
What Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., has said: “I look forward to meeting with Judge Kavanaugh to discuss his views on several issues such as protecting women's rights, guaranteeing access to health care for those with pre-existing conditions & protecting the right to vote, just to name a few. I’ll make my decision after that,” Nelson said in his original statement via Twitter. Then, in a July 16 fundraising email, Nelson said: “If you want to stop McConnell's plans to put another right-wing extremist on the Supreme Court, gut affordable health care and dismantle Medicare, you need to give right now to make sure Democrats take back the Senate by winning in Florida.”
What Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Nelson’s challenger, has said: “I am glad President Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and look forward to learning more about his record. Even though Bill Nelson pledged last week he would vote against the nominee without knowing who it was, he needs to do his job and give him a fair hearing. Unlike Nelson, I actually waited on commenting on the nominee until there was one.”
What Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., has said: “I look forward to thoroughly examining Judge Kavanaugh’s record in the coming weeks as the Senate considers his nomination to replace Justice Kennedy.”
What Republican challenger Josh Hawley has said: “Judge Kavanaugh is a remarkably qualified nominee for the Supreme Court. I have full confidence he will uphold the Constitution as the people wrote it, not impose his values from the bench. And that’s what the people deserve. The balance of the court turns on this nomination and I applaud the President for his thoughtfulness on this decision. Unfortunately, the deciding vote may well rest with Senator Claire McCaskill – who has been wrong on Supreme Court nominees every single time.”
What Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., has said: “Judge Kavanaugh has a record of adherence to the Constitution and has demonstrated a commitment to interpreting the law – not making it. I expect the U.S. Senate to conduct a fair, thorough confirmation process, and I look forward to meeting with the nominee.”
What Democratic challenger Jacky Rosen has said: “Based on President Trump’s own statements, it’s critical the next Supreme Court justice affirm their belief that the Constitution protects individual liberties – including reproductive rights. I have serious reservations about whether Judge Kavanaugh will meet that standard. Nevadans will be watching closely to see whether Sen. Heller will be an independent voice who will ask these tough questions, or if he will once again bend to his party leaders and rubber stamp another nominee from President Trump.”
What Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., has said: “All that changes for me is that we now have a nominee … Now I’ll get to work to thoroughly review and vet his record to provide advice and consent for filling this vacancy. … An exhaustive and fair process took place for Justice Gorsuch, who I supported, and it should and must take place again now,” she said in a statement via Twitter.
What Republican challenger Kevin Cramer has said: “He is strongly committed to the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution and holds tight to the concept of the constitutional separation of powers to ensure government accountability and protect our liberty. His temperament, academic background and past judicial experience more than qualify him to serve on the highest court in the land. I believe these characteristics and values match perfectly with the expectations of the majority of North Dakotans and for these reasons, I support his nomination and strongly encourage our North Dakota Senators to unite in support of this outstanding nominee. This is a winning pick for North Dakota and deserves our two votes.”
What Democrat Phil Bredesen has said: “An important part of a Senator's job is to approve or reject appointments the President makes to the Judiciary. In the Senate, I’ll vote for or against a nominee based solely on whether I believe them to be highly qualified and ethical —not based on partisan politics. Looking ahead: the President’s Supreme Court nominee deserves a fair and timely confirmation hearing. This is an opportunity for the Senate to get back to basics and show it can do its job.”
What Republican Marsha Blackburn has said: “Judge Brett Kavanaugh will make a fine Supreme Court Justice, and I thank President Trump for nominating a strong constitutionalist with a proven track record of upholding the rule of law. Tennesseans are frustrated by liberal activist judges and justices who too often legislate from the bench. I know they will be well served by Judge Kavanaugh.”
What Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., has said: “I take my responsibility to advise and consent on a nominee to the Supreme Court very seriously. As I did when Merrick Garland and Neil Gorsuch were nominated, I am evaluating Judge Kavanaugh's record, legal qualifications, judicial philosophy and particularly, his views on healthcare. I encourage West Virginians to review his qualifications themselves and share their thoughts and concerns with me.”
What Republican challenger Patrick Morissey has said: “West Virginians are tired of Sen. Manchin’s spineless political calculation and pandering to liberal elites. West Virginia voters were clear in 2016 when they overwhelmingly elected President Trump by more than 40 points, and now they have an opportunity to remind Sen. Manchin to stand with our President and a highly-qualified Supreme Court nominee.” Morissey added, “What you will see over the next month, you began to see it last week, is that Joe Manchin is flopping along, straddling that fence. Joe Manchin knows that he will ultimately vote for Kavanaugh, that he is going to be in a very difficult position with Chuck Schumer and his liberal donors.”
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2d ago / 8:38 PM UTC
Analysis: Trump’s hold on the GOP is more than primary threats
The expected purge of Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo. from her position in House GOP leadership has some asking: Why are Republicans looking to recover from a loss in 2020 by rallying around President Trump, who just months earlier lost them the White House, Congress, and the Senate?
One reason is that he commands the loyalty of many base voters, who can potentially primary his opponents. But just as important, he can credibly threaten to take those voters away from the GOP entirely, dragging down Republicans of all stripes.
This reality undergirds a political argument Senator Lindsey Graham, R-.S.C. made for standing by Trump after criticizing him over the insurrection in January.
“I would just say to my Republican colleagues: 'Can we move forward without President Trump?' The answer is no,” Graham said on Hannity on Thursday. “I've always liked Liz Cheney, but she's made a determination that the Republican Party can't grow with President Trump. I've determined we can't grow without him.”
Graham has little to fear from a primary; he won re-election in November. But he does care a lot about the overall state of the GOP and he’s concerned that Trump’s economic populism brought in millions of new voters who might leave without him.
But why can’t Republicans like Graham just run on economic populism without entertaining Trump and his election lies, which are currently tearing their party apart and rallying the Democratic base in opposition? One problem is that Trump can take the party down with him in response.
In 2015, Republicans leaders resisted calls to expel Trump, who was seen as dragging down the party’s brand, in part because he was threatening to run as an Independent — and they believed him. Unlike other Republicans, he’s never made a pretense of putting the party’s health over his own ambitions.
This dynamic returned earlier this year as the party momentarily wavered on whether to abandon him over the Capitol attack. While they deliberated, reports suddenly emerged that Trump was considering a new third party. He ruled it out shortly after his acquittal in the impeachment trial.
It’s important to note Cheney’s argument is being made primarily as a defense of truth and American democracy, not as a political feint justified by raw vote totals.
But if Trump were to withdraw his support for Republicans in 2022 or declare the elections fatally compromised, the results could be devastating. His campaign to delegitimize the vote in Georgia may have cost Republicans the Senate by depressing conservative turnout, prompting statehouses around the country to pass new voting restrictions aimed in part at reassuring Trump voters who believe his false claims.
President Lyndon B. Johnson reportedly said he would prefer to keep a party rival “inside the tent peeing out, then outside the tent peeing in." This isn’t quite the same thing: There’s nothing Republicans can do to keep Trump from making a mess. But the alternative might be Trump taking out the tent poles and crashing the entire structure.
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5d ago / 2:39 PM UTC
Charlie Crist announces Florida gubernatorial bid
Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., is running for governor, he announced Tuesday, an attempt to return to the state's executive mansion — this time, as a member of the other party.
Crist governed the state from 2007-2011 — while elected as a Republican, he finished out his term without any party affiliation after a failed 2010 Senate bid. He later joined the Democratic Party (after an unsuccessful 2014 gubernatorial bid) and is in his third term in Congress.
Now he wants to take on Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has been seen as a rising star on the right and has been trumpeting his state's response to the pandemic.
Crist's announcement video tries to make a contrast with DeSantis as it runs through Crist and supposed Floridians looking back fondly on his time in the governor's mansion, as well as his work in Congress during the pandemic.
"Today, Florida has a governor that's only focused on his future, not yours. While COVID took the lives of 35,000 Floridians, DeSantis attacked doctors and scientists," Crist says.
"DeSantis is stripping away your voting rights, he's against a $15 minimum wage, he doesn't believe in background checks for guns, doesn't believe in a woman's right to choose, doesn't listen, doesn't care, and unless you can write him a campaign check, you don't exist."
Florida should be a place where hard work is rewarded, justice is equal, and opportunity is right in front of you. That's a Florida for all — and that's why I'm running for Governor.
And for the eagle-eyed political junkie, the video also includes praise from former President Barack Obama during a 2009 event on the Great Recession, an event where the then-Republican embraced the Democratic president in an image that helped to sink his career within the GOP.
The announcement makes him the first major Democrat to throw their hat into the ring, but he's not expected to be alone. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has repeatedly nodded at the prospect of running, and has been a vocal critic of DeSantis. Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., released a social-media bio spot produced by her congressional campaign on Tuesday, shortly after she retweeted a call for Florida's next governor to be a woman.
DeSantis has become one of the more visible governors during the pandemic, often clashing with reporters and Biden administration public health officials about things like vaccine mandates and public-health restrictions.
During a press conference on Monday where he signed a bill that prohibited businesses from requiring customers to certify they've been vaccinated for Covid-19 before entering, the Republican took a victory lap on his handling of the pandemic.
"We focused on lifting people up. We wanted people going back to work, we wanted our kids to be in school," DeSantis said, criticizing liberal cities across the country for implementing new Covid-19 related restrictions.
"We wanted our economy to be healthy, we wanted our society to be healthy, we wanted people to be happy living in Florida. That was the path that we trodded, it was the road less traveled at the time, but. think we're sitting here now seeing the state is much more prosperous as a result of that."
Liberal group launches $12 million TV ad buy to boost Democrats' sweeping elections bill
The liberal group End Citizens United is launching a $12 million TV ad campaign nationally and in key states Tuesday, aimed at getting the Democrats’ sweeping election overhaul bill over the finish line.
The House has passed the bill and a Senate committee plans to mark up S.1, titled the “For The People Act” on May 11. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has indicated the full chamber will consider the bill.
West Virginia will be a focal point because Sen. Joe Manchin is the only Democrat in the 50-member caucus who hasn’t cosponsored the bill. He said Friday on WV MetroNews Talkline that it is “a far-reaching, 800-page bill which I do not support in its totality,” and has called for bipartisan policies to protect trust in elections.
The group's West Virginia ad doesn’t mention Manchin by name and appears aimed at creating political space for the centrist Democrat to support the bill. “Now's our moment,” a narrator says. “Together we can give power back to people, limit the influence of corporate special interests, get big money out of our politics.”
Manchin “has talked about how important it is to protect free and fair elections and reduce the influence of money in politics. He has a record of supporting many of the proposals in this bill, which have broad bipartisan support,” said Tiffany Muller, the president of End Citizens United and Let America Vote Action Fund.
The other four states are home to Democratic senators who face re-election and are top Republican targets. In Arizona, there are English and Spanish-language ads giving air cover to Sen. Mark Kelly, who comes before voters next fall; and thanking Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a moderate Democrat who sometimes breaks with her party, for backing the bill.
"End Citizens United/Let America Vote is ramping up all aspects of our campaign as the bill continues to move closer to a vote on the Senate floor, where we expect it to pass,” Muller said.
“This bill will stop billionaires from buying elections, counteract the wave of voter suppression being carried out across the country, and put in place ironclad ethics laws to make Washington work for everyone.”
Democrats have a slim 50-50 majority in the Senate and no support for the bill among Republicans, who have blasted it as a partisan-power grab. Even if Democrats were to unify their caucus and secure a majority, they would need to eliminate or get around the 60-vote threshold to pass the legislation.
Conservative groups have been vocal about their opposition to the legislation, too. The American Action Network launched digital ads against it in key swing districts back in March, and the Heritage Action announced that month it would spend $10 million on what it dubbed an "election integrity campaign," which includes opposing the Democratic plan.
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10d ago / 7:01 PM UTC
Ossoff is latest tapped for commission on China
WASHINGTON – Amid growing momentum in Congress for comprehensive legislation to confront China, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., appointed freshman Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., to a bipartisan commission focused on human rights abuses in the region.
The Congressional Executive Commission on China, created in 2000, is tasked with “monitoring human rights and development of the rule of law in China” and is required to submit an annual report to the president.
This past January, the commission on China revealed new evidence in a report accusing China of possibly committing “genocide” in its treatment of minority Muslims, like Uighurs, in the Western province of Xinjiang.
“The whole world faces a stark choice between government based on the consent of the governed, rule of law, and universal human rights, or totalitarianism and oppression,” Ossoff said in a statement provided to NBC. “I will apply my experience investigating human rights abuses and war crimes to expose and demand accountability for political repression and human rights abuses in China or anywhere on Earth.”
Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., will serve as the chairman of the commission on China, while Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., will be the co-chairman.
Congressional leaders are responsible for naming the remaining 16 members, with Schumer expected to announce that Sens. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Angus King, I-Maine., will be joining the commission, according to multiple people familiar with the process. Reps Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., Chris Smith, R-N.J., and Brian Mast, R-Fla., are also expected to be among the members named, according to those familiar with the commission.
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10d ago / 3:05 PM UTC
Poll: Americans divided over the future of filibuster
As some frustrated Democrats advocate for an end to the Senate filibuster, a new poll from Monmouth University shows the American public divided over the rule — with a significant share still unsure about what it is at all.
The survey, which was conducted April 8-12, found that Americans are about evenly divided over approval of the filibuster, which the poll defines to respondents as “a procedure used in the Senate to block a bill from being put to a vote until a supermajority of 60 senators agree to end debate on it.” About a third approve (34 percent), a third disapprove (34 percent) and a third have no opinion (33 percent)
But most people may be a little fuzzy on the facts.
Just one in five Americans (19 percent) say they’re very familiar with the filibuster, while 40 percent say they’re only somewhat familiar. An additional 12 percent say they’re not too familiar or not familiar at all with it, and about one in three Americans — 29 percent — say they have never heard of the Senate filibuster.
The poll also shows little enthusiasm nationally for throwing out the filibuster wholesale, although reforms to it are more popular. Only about one in five Americans (19 percent) say they support completely eliminating the filibuster, while 38 percent say it should be kept but with reforms. Another 38 percent say the filibuster should be kept in place as it is.
The data also show a partisan gap, reflecting Democrats’ recent frustrations with their inability to pass what they believe are popular agenda items — like gun ownership reforms — because a sufficient number of Republicans don’t cross the aisle to support them.
Two-thirds of Republicans (64 percent) want to keep the filibuster as it is. But despite a push among some progressives to ditch it entirely, the critical mass among Democrats appears to be around reform rather than a wholesale elimination of the filibuster. A third of Democrats (30 percent) want to kill it entirely, while 49 percent support keeping it with changes.
The survey was conducted April 8-12 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.
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11d ago / 2:19 PM UTC
GOP Rep. Budd jumps into North Carolina Senate race with Club for Growth endorsement
Rep. Ted Budd, R-N.C., announced Wednesday that he's running for Senate in 2022 to fill the seat that will be vacated by the retiring incumbent Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.
The third-term congressman launched his bid with a three-minute video where he pokes fun at the extravagance of some announcement video, evokes former President Trump with video of Trump praising him at a campaign rally, echoes conservative frustrations about cancel culture and accuses congressional Democrats of "shredding our Constitution."
"I'm a small businessman who was so fed up by the liberals' attacks on our faith, our family and our way of life that I ran for Congress to stand and fight alongside Donald Trump, drain the swamp and take our country back," Budd says.
"We all know that Joe Biden is a weak leader who won't stand up to the radical left. Today, the U.S. Senate is the last line of defense against having a woke socialist wasteland, and I'm running to stop that, period."
Budd joins a Republican primary field that includes fellow Congressman Mark Walker and former Gov. Pat McCrory. Trump's daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, has also said she's interested in running but hasn't decided yet.
Shortly after Budd's announcement, the conservative Club for Growth PAC backed Budd in statement from its president, former Rep. David McIntosh, R-Ind.
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13d ago / 8:22 PM UTC
Trump backs Susan Wright, widow of former congressman, in special election
Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Texas Republican Susan Wright in the special election to replace her late husband, former Republican Rep. Ron Wright.
Trump made the endorsement through an emailed press release — he remains banned from virtually all social media platforms in the wake of the January attack on the Capitol by his supporters — hewing very closely to the boilerplate language he typically uses while backing a candidate.
"Susan Wright will be a terrific Congresswoman (TX-06) for the Great State of Texas. She is the wife of the late Congressman Ron Wright, who has always been supportive of our America First Policies," Trump said.
"Susan will be strong on the Border, Crime, Pro-Life, our brave Military and Vets, and will ALWAYS protect your Second Amendment."
Wright is running in a crowded race to fill the seat vacated by the death of her husband, who served one term before passing away in February. There are 23 candidates in the special election, which pits every candidate on the same ballot, regardless of party. If no candidate wins a majority on the first ballot, the top two move onto a runoff.
Loyalty to Trump has been a big theme on the Republican side of the race. One candidate, Michael Wood, has spoken out against Trump. But many of the other Republicans, in a field that includes multiple former Trump administration officials, have tried to hug him tight. One candidate, former WWE wrestler Dan Rodimer, has pointed to his 2020 congressional endorsement from Trump to argue he's "the only one that has ever been endorsed by President Trump." That comment prompted Trump adviser Jason Miller to tweet last week clarifying that Trump hadn't yet weighed on the special election.
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13d ago / 6:24 PM UTC
Former Democratic Rep. Cunningham running for governor of South Carolina
Former Rep. Joe Cunningham, D-S.C., is running for governor in an underdog bid to become the first Democrat elected governor of South Carolina since 1998.
After weeks of speculation, the Democrat broke the news on social media, tweeting out a video announcement focused primarily on his family and his own biography. He criticized the South Carolina state government as too extreme for the state, pointing to new restrictions on abortion and voting, as well as the decision to loosen restrictions on the open carry of firearms.
Cunningham then turned his criticism to Gov. Henry McMaster, the Republican he hopes to defeat next November.
"Gov. McMaster has been cheering them on every step of the way. It's embarrassing. The challenges we face aren't because of our people, they're because of our politicians," he said.
"After 20 years of trying the same thing, it's time for something different, something new, which is why I'm announcing that I'm running for governor of SOuth Carolina because my son, and your kids, deserve something better. We all do."
I’m running for Governor of South Carolina because the challenges we face aren’t because of our people, they’re because of our politicians.
Cunningham is a one-term congressman who served in Congress from 2019 to 2020 after winning the Charleston-area seat once represented by the state's former GOP Gov. Mark Sanford. Sanford lost his primary in 2018 to Republican Katie Arrington, who Cunningham narrowly beat. He lost two years later to Republican Nancy Mace, who now represents the district in Congress.
The Democrat has experience winning over a Republican-leaning area — he pointed to his 2018 victory, where he won in a district that voted for then-President Donald Trump by double-digits just two years prior, in his announcement video. But no Democrat has won statewide there since the 2006 election for superintendent of education, according to The Post and Courier.
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17d ago / 7:21 PM UTC
NRA will spend $2 million on ads opposing Biden's gun policy and ATF nominee
The National Rifle Association is pledging to spend $2 million in digital and television ads, as well as supporter outreach as it looks to rally opposition to President Joe Biden's gun policies and his pick to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The efforts include $600,000 in digital advertising across seven states (Maine, Arizona, Montana, West Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Pennsylvania), $400,000 in television ads in Maine, West Virginia and Montana, and $500,000 in mail pieces sent to supporters in 12 states (Maine, Arizona, Montana, West Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania, Utah, Alaska, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana).
Examples of the digital and television ads shared by the NRA show the opposition centered on Biden's nomination of David Chipman to lead ATF as well as a broad claim that Biden wants to ban "commonly owned firearms and magazines," calling on senators to oppose both Biden and Chipman.
After a mass shooting in Colorado last month, Biden reiterated his call to ban assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as to expand the use of background checks.
Last week, Biden took executive action aimed at limiting homemade firearms that don't have traceable serial numbers and to call on the Justice Department to lay out model "red flag" laws for states. These laws allow courts to temporarily block someone from having a firearm if family members believe they are a danger to themself or to others. He also announced Chipman's nomination alongside those actions.
"Americans should not be forced to live in fear in a political climate in which government leaders are outrightly hostile to a fundamental and guaranteed freedom enshrined in our Bill of Rights," Amy Hunter, an NRA spokeswoman, told NBC.
“We will fight Chipman’s nomination and the bad bills that now are in the Senate. And, this is just the beginning.”
Everytown for Gun Safety, a group that has organized as a counterweight to the NRA's institutional power in the gun arena, launched a seven-figure ad campaign of its own last monthaimed at convincing Congress to pass new background check expansions.
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17d ago / 3:39 PM UTC
EMILY's List endorses Democrat Carroll Foy in VA Gov race
In the crowded Democratic primary for Virginia governor, Jennifer Carroll Foy’s campaign has been adamant that the race has turned into a two-person contest — between her and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
Now, EMILY’s List has decided to endorse the former state delegate over state Sen. Jennifer McClellan this morning.
Both Carroll Foy and McClellan are vying to be the state’s first woman — and first Black woman — governor. And Carroll Foy has edged out McClellan in fundraising so far, even as McAuliffe has far more resources.
But McClellan got a boost of her own this morning as she attempts to frame herself as the non-McAuliffe alternative — CNN is reporting that two prominent Democratic donors in California are asking their network to send money to her.
Polling in the race has shown McAuliffe with a huge lead over the field ahead of the June 8 primary, with the rest of the field, that also includes Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and state Del. Lee Carter, in a pile-up far behind him.
—Ben Kamisar contributed
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Carol E. Lee
17d ago / 3:17 PM UTC
Biden administration kicks off social media push on vaccines with celebrity help
The Biden administration on Thursday plans to kick off the next phase of its campaign to combat vaccine hesitancy with a new effort that targets young people through celebrities and their social media platforms, according to administration officials.
The idea is for doctors, scientists and other health officials to take over the social media platforms of famous people, including Olivia Holt, Eva Longoria, Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest, for live events about the vaccine aimed at their millions of followers, according to a release detailing the effort. The initiative, called “We Can Do This: Live,” will include Instagram Live questions and answers and other virtual events where followers can ask questions and get information about the vaccine.
The NBA, WNBA, NASCAR, the Recording Academy and others such as Walter Kim, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, political strategist Ana Navarro, Barbara Corcoran and Mark Cuban are also participating in the events.
The timing of the new phase comes as availability for the vaccine has been expanded to all adults, and the administration is trying to reach some of the core groups that are still hesitant to get vaccinated. “It’s time to pull all the levers we have,” one administration official said.
The goal, according to the release, is to reach Americans, particularly young people, “directly in the places where they already consume content online, including social media, podcasts, YouTube, and more.”