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GOP senator defends Trump by claiming mask mandate would have failed

One of President Trump's most loyal Senate allies says it was a sign of "respect" from the president to not push for nationwide face mask adoption.

  • Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) told "Axios on HBO" that "Trump's default position is generally for individual responsibility and individual outcomes. And so while he's said, 'It's up to you,' that's a respect."

Why it matters: Face masks are a key part of controlling the spread of coronavirus, and many state and local officials clashed over implementing mask mandates.


  • Back in September, CDC director Robert Redfield said masks may be even more effective than a vaccine in stopping the pandemic.

The bottom line: Cramer defended Trump's position as rooted in a preference for freedom.

  • "Part of the freedom that he supports so strong are states' rights, federalism. Now you may not like how he talks about it, but he does talk about individual freedoms, and local control of things in a meaningful way that frankly draws a lot of the support."

The big picture: Cramer told Axios CEO Jim VandeHei in the "Axios on HBO" interview that he doubted a mandate would have stuck.

  • "I know there are a lotta people that, if he created a mask mandate, wouldn't have worn a mask."

The bottom line: Many Trump supporters follow the president's cue, and the president could have spent time pushing people to wear masks.

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Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

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Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

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