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Biden won't lease a "campaign plane," breaking a candidate tradition for decades

The "campaign plane" is becoming another casualty of the pandemic.

Driving the news: Joe Biden's team hasn't booked any air travel — and thus has no need to lease an aircraft with the Democratic nominee's name and logo emblazoned on the side, a candidate tradition for decades, people familiar with the plans tell Axios.


The big picture: Biden is betting that following public health guidelines is the most strategic as well as responsible path to the presidency. Eschewing large events and staying grounded allows him to draw yet another contrast with President Trump, who is gassing up Air Force One to hit outdoor “hangar” rallies in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Arizona this week.

  • Most swing states have set limits on the size of any gatherings — though the campaigns may interpret them differently.
  • Officials with the campaign and in the states say Pennsylvania's limit for gatherings is 25 indoors and 250 outdoors; Michigan's are 10 and 100; Wisconsin has county-by-county rules.
  • Campaign spokesman TJ Ducklo contrasted Biden's approach with Trump in a lengthy statement that charges Trump with "gambling with American lives for his own political gain."

Biden aides say he hasn't completely ruled out flying between now and November — and that the campaign could change course if individual states change their guidelines.

Flashback: Presidential (and vp) campaigns typically unveil their planes over the summer, marking the final phase in the race. These aircraft take on looks, smells and stories of their own as they hurtle through the sky — sites for moving press conferences and private huddles with advisers through the highs, lows and decision points of every race.

  • Photographers traditionally snap photos of candidates waving from the steps and then scramble up into the back with the traveling reporters. Staff and U.S. Secret Service agents fill the middle section of the plane. The candidates (as well their families and any VIPs) sit up front.
  • Over the years, photos have captured candidates' sometimes emotional reactions as they behold the glistening beasts that will transport them and embody their political status.
  • John McCain reacted with a look of surprise to see his name stenciled onto the side of his 737 on June 30, 2008.
  • Barack Obama boarded his “Change We can Believe” 757 on July 20, 2008.
  • Mitt Romney stepped onto his “Believe in America” plane August 31, 2012.
  • When Hillary Clinton let reporters onto her “Stronger Together” plane Sept. 5 2016, she called it “the last moment before the mad dash.”
  • Trump was an exception. In 2016, he said no thanks to a traditional campaign plane since he already had his own: He rode “Trump Force One" while the press corps followed on a separate charter, which sometimes got left behind.

Be smart: Some campaign veterans have been arguing for years for a permanent ground stoppage — and now there's an excuse.

  • “The days of the traditional campaign plane loaded with lots of press traveling around the country are over, even after the pandemic ends,” predicted Steve Duprey, a prominent New Hampshire Republican who had served as a senior adviser to McCain’s 2008 campaign. “The planes and the effort to staff and move them are expensive and time consuming."

Pac-12 will play this fall despite ongoing pandemic

The Pac-12, which includes universities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Utah and Washington state, will play football starting Nov. 6, reversing its earlier decision to postpone the season because of the coronavirus pandemic, ESPN's Kyle Bonagura and Heather Dinich report.

Why it matters: The conference's about-face follows a similar move by the Big Ten last week and comes as President Trump has publicly pressured sports to resume despite the ongoing pandemic. The Pac-12 will play a seven-game conference football season, according to ESPN.

COVAX vaccine initiative involves most of the world, but U.S. or China

Data: Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance; Map: Naema Ahmed/Axios

A global initiative to ensure equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines now includes most of the world — but not the U.S., China or Russia.

Why it matters: Assuming one or more vaccines ultimately gain approval, there will be a period of months or even years in which supply lags far behind global demand. The COVAX initiative is an attempt to ensure doses go where they're most needed, rather than simply to countries that can produce or buy them at scale.

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Podcast: The child care tax on America's economy

Child care in the U.S. is in crisis, which makes it much harder for the American economy to recover — as providers struggle to stay in business and parents wrestle with work.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the problems and what can be done to solve them, with Vox senior reporter Anna North.

Scientists are trying to figure out how much the amount of coronavirus in your body matters

How sick a person gets from a virus can depend onhow much of the pathogen that person was exposed to and how much virus is replicating in their body — questionsthat are still open for the novel coronavirus.

Why it matters: As people try to balance resuming parts of their daily lives with controlling their risk of COVID-19, understanding the role of viral load could help tailor public health measures and patient care.

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China's vow to achieve "carbon neutrality" before 2060 sends shockwaves through the climate world

A new insta-analysis of China's vow to achieve "carbon neutrality" before 2060 helps to underscore why Tuesday's announcement sent shockwaves through the climate and energy world.

Why it matters: Per the Climate Action Tracker, a research group, following through would lower projected global warming 0.2 to 0.3°C. That's a lot!

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Kayleigh McEnany: Trump will accept "free and fair" election, no answer on if he loses

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Thursday that President Trump will "accept the results of a free and fair election," but did not specify whether he will commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses to Joe Biden.

Why it matters: Trump refused to say on Wednesday whether he would commit to a peaceful transition of power, instead remarking: "we're going to have to see what happens."

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Sanders: "This is an election between Donald Trump and democracy"

In an urgent appeal on Thursday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said President Trump presented "unique threats to our democracy" and detailed a plan to ensure the election results will be honored and that voters can cast their ballots safely.

Driving the news: When asked yesterday whether he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses, Trump would not, and said: "We're going to have to see what happens."

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Why money laundering persists

2 million suspicious activity reports,or SARs, are filed by banks every year. Those reports are sent to the U.S. Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), which has the job of determining whether the reports are evidence of criminal activity, and whether that activity should be investigated and punished.

The catch: FinCEN only has 270 employees, which means that FinCEN is dealing with a ratio of roughly 150 reports per employee per week. So it comes as little surprise to learn that most of the reports go unread, and the activity in them unpunished.

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