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GOP leaders step into Biden’s way on COVID


The TAKE with Rick Klein

Debates over masks and mandates might make it seem like 2020.

It might also well be a taste of 2024. President Joe Biden’s admonition that lawmakers who are blocking vaccine requirements should “get out of the way” accomplished nothing of the sort — and may have had the opposite reaction.

“I am standing in your way,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday, declaring that Florida will remain a “free state” where no one will be required to show proof of vaccination or force children to wear masks.

DeSantis and other potential presidential contenders who are Republican governors — including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem — have sought to one-up each other when it comes to establishing themselves as champions of personal liberty before and now during this troublesome period of the pandemic.

New polling shows Biden’s trust in handling the pandemic slipping among voters. Quinnipiac University numbers out Wednesday found the president’s approval on COVID at 53% of Americans — down a dozen points since May.

Biden aides, meanwhile, have begun calling out states, including Texas and Florida, where the delta variant is contributing to spikes in cases. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday “that’s not meant to be political,” and is simply “meant to convey that more action is needed in some part of the country.”

Of course, it is political. Republican leaders don’t need the contradictory messaging of former President Donald Trump to make resistance to vaccine and mask mandates a mantra, and skepticism of conflicting advice from scientists crosses party lines.

Now with the concept of “vaccine passports” gaining currency in some localities and businesses, partisan lines are hardening as quickly as campaign fundraising pitches can be written.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

The walls are closing in on disgraced New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

After the announcement of the devastating findings in the state Attorney General’s report on Cuomo’s misconduct and an avalanche of calls for him to resign, state lawmakers could move toward impeachment.

The New York State Assembly, where Democrats hold a vast majority, needs 76 votes to proceed with impeachment. According to ABC News’ Aaron Katersky, at least 82 of the state Assembly’s 150 members are in favor authorizing an impeachment trial. This as Cuomo clings to power with no sign of voluntary resignation.

If impeached, Cuomo would be the second New York state executive to face impeachment. The first was William Sulzer who is the only New York governor to be impeached and convicted. His removal followed accusations of campaign finance fraud in 1913.

If Cuomo were to be removed from office, it would make way for the state’s first female governor. As laid out in the New York’s constitution, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul would immediately become the acting governor during an impeachment trial. If Cuomo is convicted, she would continue in that role through the end of his term.

The assembly’s judiciary committee is slated to meet Monday morning to discuss their impeachment investigation.

The TIP with Meg Cunningham

Four Republicans vying to oust California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom criticized his response to the coronavirus pandemic in a debate Wednesday night on some of the top issues facing the state.

The candidates who joined Newsom all opposed mask mandates, but their solutions to curbing the spread of the virus and its variants differed.

Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer encouraged viewers to get the vaccine (he and his family got it) but said he does not support mask mandates in schools, which are currently in place ahead of the 2021 school year.

Businessman John Cox took a different approach, saying he doesn’t support mandates or believe that people who have had the coronavirus should get the vaccine, because they have antibodies that protect them against it.

Former Congressman Doug Ose and state Assemblyman Kevin Kiley both pushed back against mandates, saying they have faith that Californians can make the right decisions for themselves and their families. Kiley took the opportunity to call out Newsom’s response directly, saying the governor was “bright lights and cash giveaways,” in an attempt to conceal a broken state government.

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