FILE PHOTO: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban leaves the stage after delivering his annual state of the nation speech in Budapest, Hungary, February 10, 2019. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo
March 19, 2019
By Thomas Escritt and Marton Dunai
BRUSSELS/BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban will attend a meeting of conservative officials from across Europe that may decide whether his party will stay in the main EU center-right political group where he has been accused of authoritarianism.
Wednesday’s meeting of delegates from the European People’s Party could be the denouement of a years-long dispute between the populist, anti-immigration Orban and more mainstream, pro-EU parties in the EPP that accuse him of flouting the rule of law.
Thirteen member parties called for a vote on the Fidesz party’s continuing membership after it distributed posters depicting European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, an EPP member, as a puppet manipulated by billionaire George Soros into backing uncontrolled immigration into Hungary.
The stakes are high for both sides. Losing Fidesz’s legislators – currently there are 12 – could cost the center-right group its position as largest party in the European Parliament after May’s elections. Worse, other parties might follow.
But for Orban, being in a group containing German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and venerable government parties from the Netherlands, Belgium and Scandinavia gives him access to the continent’s power brokers and confers a mainstream respectability that other populists lack.
The CDU has gone to great lengths to preserve relations with Fidesz, even as rights groups accused him of stoking ethnic hatred with anti-migration campaigns, and interfering with judicial independence.
But the posters, and Orban’s campaign against the private Central European University in Budapest that Soros founded, could have pushed things too far.
There are signs that the calculus is shifting for Orban as well: Hungary’s pro-government press have called for Fidesz to quit the EPP rather than endure “humiliating” negotiations.
“All the signals that are coming from Budapest suggest they are targeting a break,” said Andreas Nick, the CDU’s point-man on relations with Hungary in Germany’s parliament. “It looks as if they are really begging to be kicked out.”
Nick has described a meeting with a Fidesz official who asked him whether he “also got money from George Soros” after he had had expressed support the Central European University . “I showed him the door,” he said.
Orban has talked of shifting the EPP to the right. If that fails, he has suggested Fidesz could form an alliance with Poland’s Law and Justice (PiS).
It is also possible that the 260 delegates could hedge their decision, for example by suspending, but not expelling, Fidesz.
The challenge is most serious for Manfred Weber, a German ally of Merkel’s who is the conservative bloc’s lead candidate in the European Parliament elections and a possible successor to Juncker as European Commission chief – an ambition that could depend on whether he can keep Fidesz on side.
But unsuccessful attempts at mediation could undermine his authority and are a gift to other parties that accuse the EPP of being soft on what they call fundamental European values such as democracy and the rule of law.
“Viktor Orban has undermined freedom of the press in Hungary, forced a university to close and harassed NGOs,” said Ska Keller, the Greens leader in the European Parliament.
“Manfred Weber cannot be trusted as a candidate for the EU’s top job if he continues to defend Orban.”
(Additional reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)
The Electoral College should be abolished and instead the president chosen by a national vote, Sen. Elizabeth Warren said at a CNN town hall in Jackson, Mississippi on Monday evening.
Warren, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, said the Electoral College disenfranchises voters who live in a state dominated by one of the parties.
"Come a general election, presidential candidates don't come to places like Mississippi, she said. “They also don't come to places like California or Massachusetts, because we're not the battleground states."
The senator stressed that "My view is that every vote matters and the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting and that means get rid of the Electoral College."
Two times in the past 20 years a Republican won the presidential election while receiving less national votes than his Democratic challenger – in 2000, George W. Bush defeated Al Gore and in 2016 Donald Trump bested Hillary Clinton, The Washington Times reported.
Trump’s victory has spurred momentum for a national popular vote, but the fact that the Electoral College is part of the Constitution makes such a radical change more problematic, according to Politico.
Instead, other alternatives are being pushed attempting to have the same change while officially keeping the Electoral College, such as the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.
That idea has member states pledge their Electoral College votes to the winner of the national popular vote. However, according to Politico, the deal only go into effect only if enough states sign on to pledge the 270 electoral votes necessary to win a presidential election. A combined total of 181 Electoral Votes have committed to the pact with the addition of Colorado last week.
Source: NewsMax Politics
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi explained to reporters Monday what kind steps she may consider to lower the federal voting age to 16 years old at a press conference in Ferguson, Missouri.
“We’re obviously collecting thoughts about it. Just because someone has a good idea — any of us — doesn’t mean it’s going to the Floor next,” Pelosi said. “It means you go through the process. You build consensus. You build a crescendo. That’s another club I’m starting: the crescendo club.”
She added, “You have an idea? Let’s see how many people you can convince. Let’s see what the other views are that we can enhance this.”
Pelosi, at her weekly presser last Thursday, told The Daily Caller she always supported lowering the voting age. The Democrat-proposed legislation, known as the “For The People Act” (H.R.1), included a debate over a failed amendment intended to lower the voting age to 16 years of age. The amendment was defeated 126-305, but H.R.1 passed. (RELATED: 125 Democrats And 1 Republican Vote To Lower Voting Age To 16)
“I myself, personally — I’m not speaking for my caucus. I myself have always been for lowering the voting age to 16,” Pelosi said last week. “I think it’s really important to capture kids when they’re in high school, when they’re interested in all of this, when they’re learning about government to be able to vote.” (RELATED: Pelosi Says She Personally Supports Lowering The Voting Age To 16)
The Speaker further elaborated on her thoughts concerning the issue Monday night when she joined Missouri Democratic Rep. Lacy Clay to talk about and take questions about H.R.1, as well as the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019 (H.R.4).
“ …. When kids are in high school is really a prime time for them to be aware of civics. Many years ago, when I was in school, civics was a requirement. Then — remember that? Well, you don’t remember that, but you read about it.”
But then, it became an elective, and I don’t know. There were other things kids took instead. So, the point is that when they are in high school, we see such a heightened interest in history and civics and climate and gun safety and you name it. And that would be a time for them to be registered to vote. Now, we want to start something that might say ‘register to register.’ But you’ve got to get them on there because once they leave high school, not all kids go to college. And even if they do, they might not be in that same sense of community that they as high school students can make a big difference. More and more, more and more.
Pelosi previously supported a local effort two years ago in San Francisco known as Proposition F, which would have lowered the voting age for municipal elections, but the measure was defeated.
Kerry Picket is a host on SiriusXM Patriot 125
Source: The Daily Caller
FILE PHOTO: Ethiopian Red Cross workers carry a body bag with the remains of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash victims at the scene of a plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
March 19, 2019
By Omar Mohammed
NAIROBI (Reuters) – Financiers, passengers and industry partners are, for now, still backing Ethiopian Airlines’ quest to become Africa’s dominant carrier, despite a March 10 crash that killed 157 people.
The causes of the Flight 302 tragedy will likely take months to establish. While much of the international focus has been on U.S. planemaker Boeing and its 737 MAX 8 jet, the airline’s reputation could also hinge on the results of the investigation.
Although crash inquiries focus on preventing future accidents rather than attributing liability, any findings that the carrier fell short in plane maintenance or piloting could be damaging.
For the present, however, passenger confidence in Ethiopian Airlines, long regarded as one of the most reliable in Africa, has remained steady, according to the company. Cancellation and booking rates are unchanged since the crash, said spokesman Asrat Begashaw.
“We are operating as normal,” he told Reuters. “Our brand is keeping its level, and we are okay.”
Two banking sources with knowledge of the matter said that, barring a major new twist in the investigation with long-term fallout, banks were still comfortable lending to Ethiopian Airlines.
“Ethiopian is a solid company,” said one, an official from an international bank that helped finance the acquisition of some Ethiopian Airlines planes. “No reason to change the way the bank sees its credit risk at this point.”
A vote of confidence from lenders is important for the airline because its years of rapid expansion have largely been financed by international borrowing.
The second source, a top European aviation banker, said Ethiopian Airlines was “a good airline, with a good reputation”.
“So unless it (the crash) is a major problem of piloting or maintenance – and it is far too early to talk about that – they will still have access to financing,” the source added.
The sources declined to be identified because the matters are confidential.
Ethiopian Airlines has borrowed from foreign banks including JP Morgan, ING Capital and Societe Generale over the past decade. It also has outstanding bonds worth $540 million, though none due until 2024, Refinitiv data shows.
The borrowing helped finance the acquisition of stakes in or establish partnerships with at least four African carriers, establishing hubs to feed traffic into Addis Ababa. Last year, the Ethiopian capital overtook Dubai as the main gateway for long-haul passengers into Africa.
The airline’s fleet grew from 35 planes in 2007 to 111 in 2019. It now flies to more than 119 international destinations, up from 52 a decade ago.
The expansion has made the state-owned carrier, founded in 1945, the most profitable major airline on the continent. Ethiopian’s net profit in the 2017/18 financial year rose to $233 million from $229 million the previous year; operating revenue jumped 43 percent to $3.7 billion.
Last year, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced plans to sell a minority stake in the airline as part of a broad strategy to open up the country to foreign investors.
Industry analysts said it was too early to evaluate the impact of the crash on the airline’s long-term plans but said, for now, its reputation remained largely intact.
“It’s a very strong management team, with good vision,” said Nawal Taneja, an author and professor at Ohio State University’s Center for Aviation Studies. “We’ve got to look at the strength of the airline as a whole, not just this one incident.”
PARTNERS, BOEING BOOKINGS
Those who want to travel across Africa have few options other than flying. Conflict, poor roads, and limited cross-border train transport often make travel by land difficult.
Analysts said the crash was unlikely to damage Ethiopian’s partnerships with African carriers, key to a strategy that helped increase passenger numbers from 2.5 million a decade ago to 10.6 million last year, or with other industry players.
One such partner is ASKY, a Togo-based carrier which Ethiopian Airlines helped launch in 2010.
“Ethiopian’s accident has not affected our partnership in any way,” said Lionel Tsoto, the airline’s head of public relations. “We continue just as before.”
Global aviation leasing firm GECAS said the airline was a “close and valued partner who we look forward to working with in the future”.
The crash, which saw the Nairobi-bound flight go down minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa, triggered a global grounding of 737 MAX planes, wiping about 10 percent off Boeing’s share price. GRAPHIC: http://graphics.thomsonreuters.com/testfiles/boeing737maxseries
Investigators have noted similarities with another deadly crash in Indonesia five months ago involving a plane of the same type owned by Lion Air, but safety officials stress the investigation is at an early stage.
Ethiopian Airlines, which grounded its handful of remaining 737 MAX planes, said it would decide whether to cancel orders for 29 others after a preliminary investigation.
Analysts said it was unlikely that the carrier would cancel the orders, worth $3.5 billion at the current list price, because Boeing would have to fix any problems before regulators permit the jet to fly again.
Boeing will be keen to retain the airline as a customer; more than half of Ethiopian’s fleet are Boeing jets.
“Ethiopian have been very loyal to Boeing in the past,” said Phil Seymour, chief executive of the IBA Group, a Surrey-based aviation consultancy.
“They will be in control of the conversation with Boeing now,” he added. “I would suspect that the business decision is to stick with the order.”
(Additional reporting by Tim Hepher and Inti Landauro in Paris, Rachel Armstrong in London, Maggie Fick in Addis Ababa and John Zodzi in Lome; Editing by Katharine Houreld, Alexandra Zavis and Pravin Char)
FILE PHOTO: British and EU flags flutter outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain January 17, 2019. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
March 19, 2019
By Thomas Escritt and Gabriela Baczynska
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union governments are exasperated by British dithering over quitting the bloc but have little appetite for pushing it out on schedule next week without a divorce deal, senior figures said on Tuesday.
EU ministers in Brussels to prepare a summit with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday voiced frustration after the speaker of parliament threw up a new obstacle for her plan to get her Brexit deal ratified before the March 29 deadline.
“Our patience as the European Union is being sorely tested at the moment,” German Europe minister Michael Roth told reporters. “Dear friends in London, please deliver. The clock is ticking.”
But Roth also echoed comments in Berlin by Chancellor Angela Merkel, the EU’s pre-eminent leader, who said she would “fight to the last minute” until midnight (2300 GMT) on March 29 to ensure an orderly exit for the EU’s second-ranked economy.
He said Germany’s main aim was to avoid a no-deal Brexit, which would disrupt business across the continent.
However, after two defeats for the Withdrawal Agreement that May negotiated with the EU, and her difficulty in trying to get it through parliament on a third vote even before the speaker ruled that it must be substantially changed, it is not clear how May can avert this without asking fellow leaders for more time.
ALL DEPENDS ON MAY
Leaders expect to discuss such an extension at the two-day summit starting on Thursday afternoon. But if May has yet to make a concrete proposal on her next move then, then the summit can do little more than outline possible steps — such as a readiness to give her a couple of months, or maybe longer.
“If there is no move from London, the leaders can also decide to wait,” said Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders. “It really depends on what May will say at the summit.”
Diplomats said member states were still discussing options for extension — possibly only for two to three months, if May persuades them she can clinch a deal at home, or for much longer if May accepts that radical reworking is needed. But these would come with conditions and might not be agreed until next week.
Merkel said there was “far too much in flux” to forecast the outcome of the summit, but her foreign minister, Heiko Maas, told reporters in Finland: “If more time is needed, it’s always better to do another round than a no-deal Brexit.”
EU diplomats say it is highly probable that leaders will unanimously support some sort of extension rather than see Britain lurch out of the bloc in 10 days’ time — even though some governments are starting to argue for ending the uncertainty and trusting to arrangements already put in place to mitigate the effects of a sudden, immediate exit.
Aides to French President Emmanuel Macron, a powerful voice on the Council alongside Merkel, say the onus is on Britain to say what it would do with more time.
“This uncertainty is unacceptable,” his EU affairs minister Nathalie Loiseau said in Brussels on Tuesday.
“Grant an extension? What for? Time is not a solution, it’s a method — if there’s an objective and a strategy. And it has to come from London.”
(Writing by Alastair Macdonald; @macdonaldrtr; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
Phillip Stucky | Contributor
Former Vice President Joe Biden experienced a four-point bump over his previous standing with potential Democratic challengers should he join the 2020 presidential race, in a Morning Consult poll released Tuesday.
Biden leads with 35 percent of the vote, followed by Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, who garnered 27 percent of the vote. Sen. Kamala Harris and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke were tied for third place with 8 percent. (RELATED: Biden Claims He Was A Desegregationist Despite Sordid History On Race)
The Morning Consult poll is released each week, and Biden increased his standing by four percentage points. Despite a wide-reaching media and ground campaign, O’Rourke only experienced a 1 percent increase in support in the poll. Harris lost two points in the poll this week.
“I have the most progressive record of anyone running,” Biden said to raucous applause before correcting himself. “Anybody who would run — I didn’t mean it. Anybody who would run.”
Morning Consult polled 13,551 registered Democrats who self-reported they may vote in a Democratic primary or caucus in their state. The poll ran from March 11 through March 17 and had a margin of error of 1 percentage point in either direction.
Source: The Daily Caller
German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a speech at the annual Global Solutions Summit in Berlin, Germany, March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
March 19, 2019
BERLIN (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday she would fight for an orderly Brexit right up until Britain’s planned departure from the European Union on March 29.
Merkel, asked whether she was ready to offer British Prime Minister Theresa May a new Brexit deal, said she “noted with interest” a ruling by the speaker of parliament that May must change her twice-defeated divorce deal to put it to a third vote.
“Now, we will see what Theresa May says to us, what her wishes are – we will try to respond to those,” Merkel added, speaking at a conference in Berlin.
“We will follow very closely how the British government reacts to what was said yesterday in parliament,” she added. “As to how deal with the situation, I can’t assess how it will be (at an EU summit) on Thursday – there is far too much in flux.”
In a move that added to the sense of crisis in London and exasperation in European capitals just days before the March 29 exit date, Speaker John Bercow shocked May’s government on Monday by ruling it could not put the same Brexit deal to another vote unless it was substantially different.
“I will fight until the last minute of the time to March 29 for an orderly exit,” Merkel said. “We haven’t got a lot of time for that, but still some days.”
Asked if she would be prepared to grant Britain a delay to Brexit, Merkel replied that she wanted to have very good relations with Britain even after Brexit.
(Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Michelle Martin)
The British union flag and the EU flag are seen flying near the Houses of Parliament, in London, Britain, March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville
March 19, 2019
By Guy Faulconbridge
LONDON (Reuters) – The United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union is uncertain nearly three years after the 2016 Brexit vote.
Most diplomats and investors think the United Kingdom faces three main options: leaving with a divorce deal, throwing the question back to the people or exiting without a deal.
Graphic on no-deal Brexit probabilities from major banks: https://tmsnrt.rs/2UIhlyz
Following are the main scenarios:
1) BREXIT WITH A DEAL – May gets her deal approved at a third attempt and the United Kingdom leaves in an orderly fashion after a modest delay.
May’s divorce treaty, the product of more than two years of negotiations with the EU, was defeated by 149 votes on March 12 and by 230 votes on Jan. 15.
She had been intending to put the deal to another vote in parliament as early as this week, but the speaker ruled on Monday that she could not do so unless the deal was re-submitted in fundamentally different form. [nL8N2153SV]
Unless May can find a way around Speaker John Bercow’s ruling – such as adding an addendum or starting a new session of parliament – she will have to ask the EU to delay Brexit to avoid a no-deal exit on March 29.
Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay on Tuesday played down the possibility of cutting the parliamentary session short in order to start a new one.
Because May must now spice any deal with additional legal and procedural innovation, Bercow’s ruling means she is likely to get just one more chance to put the deal to a vote.
She had warned lawmakers that unless they approved her divorce deal, Britain’s exit could face a long delay which many Brexiteers fear would mean Britain may never leave.
May could discuss a delay and seek to get last-minute concessions at a March 21-22 EU summit, though with such chaos in London a crunch decision on Brexit might be delayed until the following week.[nL8N2154G1]
The EU has repeatedly said the Withdrawal Agreement is the only deal on the table and May’s spokesman said Britain would not be seeking to renegotiate the most contentious part – the Irish border plan.
If May is looking for a legal fix, though, she could seek a change to the accompanying Political Declaration.
Sources in Brussels said on Monday that Britain could ask for a Brexit delay even after the summit, suggesting that the decisive moment for Brexit might still be some days ahead.
One possible way out for May would be a Brexit delay until the end of 2019, with an option to leave earlier should her deal get passed. Ultimately, May might have to offer a date for her own resignation to win enough Conservative votes for her deal.
To get her deal through parliament, May must win over at least 75 lawmakers: dozens of rebels in her own Conservative Party, some Labour lawmakers, and the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which props up her minority government.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group of eurosceptics in Britain’s House of Commons, signaled he could fall in behind the deal. [nL8N2152DJ]
Many banks and investors still say her deal could be struck and approved, and cite previous EU crises such as the Greek debt crisis, where solutions were found at the eleventh hour.
“I think MPs (lawmakers) will see sense and approve the Meaningful Vote before March 29,” said Matthew Elliott, the head of the 2016 campaign for leaving the European Union, told Reuters after Bercow’s ruling.
“The most likely outcome at this juncture is the deal going through,” Elliott said. “When it becomes apparent that the only extension on offer from the EU is long, tortuous and with lots of conditions, I suspect enough MPs will get behind the deal for it to pass.”
If May’s deal fails, or if another vote on the same deal is prevented, another option is that parliament at some point takes control of Brexit and lawmakers seek a closer relationship with the EU, staying in the EU customs union.
Lawmakers could seek indicative votes on a way forward and there might be a majority for a softer Brexit than May’s deal. To avoid that, May could call a snap election, though her party does not want one.
Another option, being pushed by some lawmakers is a referendum on May’s Brexit deal, though such a vote, were it ever called, would effectively become a referendum on EU membership.
2) BREXIT REFERENDUM – May’s deal fails and a long delay allows the campaign for another referendum to gain momentum.
It is far from clear how the United Kingdom would vote if given another chance.
An often chaotic set of votes in parliament last week has shown that none of the alternatives to May’s deal – such as leaving with no deal, a referendum or allowing parliament to decide how to leave – can muster a majority among lawmakers yet.
In the June 23, 2016 referendum, 17.4 million voters, or 51.9 percent, backed leaving the EU while 16.1 million, or 48.1 percent, backed staying.
While many surveys ahead of the vote incorrectly predicted that the United Kingdom would vote to stay in the club it joined in 1973, polls now suggest no great desire for a second referendum and indicate that many voters, fatigued by the political squabbling, would be happy to leave without a deal.
Corbyn, who voted against membership in 1975 and gave only reluctant backing to the 2016 campaign to remain in the EU, has given ambiguous backing for another referendum, saying he would push for one alongside a national election.
When asked if he would vote to remain in the EU in a possible future referendum, Corbyn said on Sunday: “It depends what the choice is in front of us.”
At the highest levels of government, there are worries that a second referendum would exacerbate the deep divisions exposed by the 2016 referendum, alienate millions of pro-Brexit voters and stoke support for the far-right.
Already, many supporters of Brexit, and even some lawmakers, say the elite has sabotaged the EU divorce and is trying to subvert the will of the people.
It is far from clear how the United Kingdom would vote and even if it did vote to remain, Brexit supporters might demand a third and decisive vote.
A new party backed by Nigel Farage, the insurgent who helped shove Britain towards the EU exit, has a message for the country’s leaders: The foundations of the political system will explode if Brexit is betrayed.
3) NO-DEAL EXIT – The chaos in London is such that parliament cannot find a way to approve May’s deal or find another divorce deal option, and after one or more delays, the EU says it will extend no longer. The United Kingdom then leaves without a deal.
Lawmakers on Wednesday voted 321 to 278 in favor of a motion that ruled out a potentially disorderly “no-deal” Brexit under any circumstances.
While the approved motion has no legal force and ultimately may not prevent a no-deal exit, it carries considerable political force.
Still, as the March 29 exit date is set in law, the default is to leave on that date unless May agrees a delay or parliament changes the law.
“You either have a deal, you have no deal, or you have no Brexit,” said Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay.
While an extension would avoid a no-deal exit on March 29, the potential for a no-deal Brexit would remain if the British parliament was unable to approve a deal.
And the European Union’s 27 other members must unanimously approve a delay to Brexit.
Barclay has said Britain should not be afraid of leaving without a deal if it cannot get a divorce deal approved.
No-deal means there would be no transition so the exit would be abrupt, the nightmare scenario for international businesses and the dream of hard Brexiteers who want a decisive split.
Britain is a member of the World Trade Organization so tariffs and other terms governing its trade with the EU would be set under WTO rules.
(Editing by Anna Willard and Giles Elgood)
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks about her policy ideas with Anand Giridharadas at the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference and festivals in Austin, Texas, U.S., March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
March 19, 2019
By Amanda Becker
CLEVELAND, Miss. (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren was walking down a street in the town of Cleveland in the rural Mississippi Delta on Monday when she stopped to examine a small home’s sagging roof.
“You can be sure there’s a lot of love in these homes. They just can’t afford (to fix) it,” state Senator Willie Simmons told Warren during the Democratic presidential candidate’s three-day campaign swing through Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama.
Affordable housing is a chief concern for the senator from Massachusetts, who recently reintroduced a $500 billion housing plan she says will create millions of housing units and reduce rental costs by 10 percent.
But the trip to the deep South, the first extended tour of the region by any of the more than dozen Democrats vying for the party’s 2020 White House nomination, also gave Warren an opportunity to try to set herself apart from the crowded and diverse field.
During meetings with housing advocates in Memphis, Tennessee, and walking tours of small Mississippi towns, Warren, who is white, tested and tailored her central message of combating income inequality to black voters, a critical Democratic voting bloc.
The trip outside the mostly white early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire that are drawing much of the early 2020 campaign focus signaled that Warren, 69, intends to make a play for support in other states that also could prove important to securing the nomination.
“I’m running to be president of all the people, and it’s important to go around the country and have a chance to talk with people face to face,” Warren told reporters after a town hall that drew about 500 people to a high school in Memphis.
Democrats will have to look beyond the traditional early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina for opportunities to pick up voters next year if an obvious front-runner does not immediately emerge.
Alabama and Tennessee are among the states holding their 2020 nominating primaries on the March 3 “Super Tuesday” following South Carolina’s contest. Mississippi is set to host its primary in mid-March. All three states have sizeable black populations.
Being first to those states will not guarantee votes. But it could win local endorsements and help recruit volunteers for Warren, who lags in national 2020 Democratic presidential opinion polls behind Senators Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris.
“Warren’s biggest advantage in making this trip is that she will likely have the attention of a critical mass of African-American Democratic primary voters in a cycle where the black vote will drive the nomination process,” said Democratic strategist Joel Payne, who managed African-American advertising for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Clinton beat Sanders in the 2016 Democratic presidential nominating race in large part because his insurgent campaign failed to gain traction with black voters and flamed out when the contest moved to the South from the early voting states.
In the general election, Clinton’s loss to Republican Donald Trump was partly due to the fact that the black turnout rate declined for the first time in 20 years, according to the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.
African-American turnout in 2016 dropped 7 points from four years earlier, when Barack Obama, the first black U.S. president, was re-elected.
During her trip, Warren touted how her housing plan was aimed at closing the wealth and housing gap between white and black Americans. Her proposal would give first-time homebuyers who live in low-income, formerly segregated areas grants to use for down payments.
It is specifically tailored to benefit black families whose relatives faced discriminatory housing policies in the years leading up to the U.S. civil rights era.
Many residents said they appreciated Warren taking the time to come and focus on their issues. On Tuesday, she planned to tour historic sites in Selma, Alabama, where the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march marked a turning point in the civil rights movement.
“Visiting helps. It lets the people down here know that somebody in Washington does care about them,” said the Rev. Alice Crenshaw, 75, whose church marked the start of Warren’s walking tour in Cleveland.
The tour of Cleveland on Monday ended at Senator’s Place, the restaurant owned by Simmons, the Mississippi Democratic state senator. Simmons has not endorsed Warren, but like others she spent time with during the campaign swing, he seemed warm to her candidacy.
Sandra Miller-Foster, 68, arrived at Senator’s Place knowing there would be a special visitor but not who. She liked what she heard from Warren.
Asked to assess the Democratic field, which includes two black U.S. senators vying for the nomination, she said policy, not race, would earn her support.
“All people want is a decent job, to own their own home and be able to send their kids to school. We’ve got to know what you’ll do for Mississippi,” Miller-Foster said.
(Reporting by Amanda Becker; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Peter Cooney)
FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, March 1, 2019. REUTERS/Staff
March 19, 2019
By Sruthi Shankar and Agamoni Ghosh
(Reuters) – European shares were on course for a fifth day of gains on Tuesday, with retail and basic resources stocks particularly strong as investors anticipated a more accommodative policy stance from the U.S. Federal Reserve this week.
The benchmark STOXX 600 rose 0.5 percent by 0932 GMT, hitting a five-month peak in what would be its longest winning streak since mid September. Gains were broad-based although Germany’s DAX led the pack with a 0.6 percent rise.
The Fed’s two-day meeting starts on Tuesday, with financial markets expecting the U.S. central bank to reinforce a halt to further rises in interest rates while possibly going further on a plan to cease reductions in its balance sheet.
That would follow moves by the European Central Bank two weeks ago to reloosen policy and pump more money into the financial system, offering hope of a continuation of stock market gains.
“There is a slightly better sentiment about stabilization on the global economy compared to late last year,” said Geoffrey Yu, head of UK investment office at UBS Wealth Management.
“As long as we have this stabilization anchored by clear expectations of a dovish Fed, or at least a non-hawkish Fed, this will be enough to keep things going,” Yu said.
Bank stocks handed back early losses to trade up 0.4 percent, after jumping more than a full percentage point on Monday following confirmation of merger talks between Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank.
Scandal-hit Danske Bank fell more than 5.3 percent in the aftermath of a vote by shareholders against a proposal to break up the bank.
News on Brexit also pointed to a delay in efforts by British Prime Minister Theresa May to get her divorce deal through parliament.
The speaker of parliament on Monday ruled May could not put her deal to a new vote unless it was re-submitted in a fundamentally different form. May is due at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday at which she will ask for a delay to Britain’s planned departure from the bloc on March 29.
London’s FTSE 100, packed with international companies that benefit from a weaker British pound, rose 0.4 percent, boosted by oil majors and miners.
Online supermarket Ocado climbed to a record high after posting strong gains in first-quarter retail sales despite a fire at its flagship distribution center.
Luxury stocks got a lift from positive trade surplus data from Switzerland, with the retail index gaining nearly 1 percent.
Chilean copper miner Antofagasta advanced about 4 percent and was the top gainer on the STOXX 600, as a higher than expected dividend overshadowed a drop in core earnings.
French telecoms operator Iliad dropped more than 2 percent after the company cut its cashflow target for 2020 in France and added it was considering the sale of part of its mobile assets.
(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Agamoni Ghosh in Bengaluru; Editing by Catherine Evans and David Holmes)